present a proposal to bring Communist Party members into the cabinet. President Yeltsin is so pleased with the Big Four meetings — perhaps because they have a cozy Soviet feeling, without the nastiness of checks and balances or separation of powers — that he seems likely to institutionalize them.

If in fact Chubais and Nemtsov leave the government, it will not be because they are scapegoats for recent failures — although Yeltsin will surely make them play that role. It will be much more because the policies with which they are identified are no longer in favor. The pendulum in Moscow seems to be swinging from reform to status quo, from competition to monopoly, and from market capitalism to crony capitalism.

Examples of the reformers’ retreat are beginning to multiply. Until fired as minister of fuel and energy, Boris Nemtsov effectively ran Russia’s power-grid monopoly,