According to Russian press reports, the fact that recent opinion polls show incumbent president Boris Yeltsin surging ahead of his main presidential challenger, Gennady Zyuganov, is creating panic in the ranks of the Communist and nationalist alliance that Zyuganov leads. Amid gloomy predictions that, with three weeks of the campaign to go, Zyuganov has peaked too soon in the ratings and is now merely treading water whileYeltsin continues to score points, the opposition held several meetings over the weekend to debate what to do. On Monday, a meeting of the council of the popular-patriotic bloc, which is backing Zyuganov’s presidential bid, met to approve Zyuganov’s economic program. There is said to have been sharp disagreement between Zyuganov and Viktor Anpilov, leader of Working Russia, over the nationalization of Russia’s commercial banks. Anpilov called on Zyuganov to be "bolder" and to make a campaign promise to nationalize Russia’s commercial banks. Zyuganov refused and is said to have rebuked Anpilov.(ORT, May 20)
On Saturday, the Communist party Central Committee held a closed-door meeting at which disagreements are said to have been equally sharp. Some of those present are said to have argued in favor of seeking a pre-election compromise with Yeltsin, an idea strongly rejected by others. If press reports are accurate, the disagreement concerns tactics, rather than strategy, since it cuts across ideological divisions. Zyuganov himself, his moderate advisor Andrei Podberezkin and Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznev are said to agree with hard-liner Anatoly Lukyanov that a compromise with Yeltsin is essential if the party is not to lose everything it has won since 1993. They argued in favor of tactics of "creeping revolution" that would bring Zyuganov into a Yeltsin-led government as prime minister. But the Communist party’s deputy leader, Vladimir Kuptsov, a centrist, insisted that compromise was out of the question and that the election must be fought with no holds barred. (Izvestiya, May 21)
Cossack Army Declares Support for Yeltsin.