Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 58

Russia’s presidential campaign took a melodramatic twist March 22 when the Duma factions responsible for the March 15 resolution denouncing the Belovezhye accord issued a public appeal to the armed forces. Signed by, among others, Communist party leader Gennady Zyuganov, Liberal Democratic party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, and "Power to the People" leader Nikolai Ryzhkov, the appeal justified the March 15 resolution on the grounds that it "in no way encroaches on the sovereignty of the CIS member states or the gradual character of their rapprochement." It also urged servicemen not to become involved in "possible provocations aimed at blockading the Duma’s performance."

The latter admonition was linked to what the authors of the appeal claimed were plans laid by the government last week to take action against the Duma for passing the resolution. Zyuganov reportedly went so far as to tell U.S. secretary of state Warren Christopher during a meeting March 22 that Russia’s defense and interior ministers had "prevented an attempted third state coup in Russia."(Interfax & Itar-Tass, March 22) It was unclear what the ministers had done to earn such praise. Grachev, a long-time Yeltsin loyalist, had, in fact, criticized the Duma resolution in comments made March 20. (Interfax, March 20) The president’s office dismissed "as nonsense" Zyuganov’s claims that a coup had been planned.

Mixed Results for Christopher.