As expected, Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and former Federation Council speaker Vladimir Shumeiko joined forces on May 30 with former presidential aide Sergei Filatov and set up a new political coalition, the Union of Progressive Forces. Conspicuous by its absence was the main party of the democratic opposition, Grigory Yavlinsky’s Yabloko. Shumeiko put the cat among the pigeons by announcing that the present Duma will not last out the remaining two years of its mandate but will be dissolved within two weeks. (RTR, May 30) The remark provoked anger and uproar within the opposition Communist Party.
Also held in Moscow last week were the founding congresses of two organizations of intellectuals — one pro-government and the other Communist. Each organization said its aim is to act as a support group for one of those two political camps. (Kommersant-daily, May 30, 31)
Chechen Elections Declared Valid.