Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 142

Addressing a press conference in Yekaterinburg on November 27, the governor of the Sverdlovsk Oblast, Eduard Rossel, announced that he would not after all be joining the new movement, "Russian Reforms-A New Course," whose establishment was announced on November 22 by Federation Council Speaker Vladimir Shumeiko. Rossel said he had discussed the movement with Boris Yeltsin when he visited the president in the hospital on November 24, and that Yeltsin told him the new movement was "no good" and that he "would not like anyone to be occupied with this issue." (3)

Rossel’s bombshell seems set to strangle the infant-movement in its cradle, not only because Rossel himself was originally portrayed as a star player, but because his words indicate that Shumeiko may have lost Yeltsin’s support. Shumeiko’s closeness and loyalty to Yeltsin have until now been the main source of his political strength. Deprived of Yeltsin’s favor, he would be a spent force.

A spokesman for the movement acknowledged in Moscow on November 27 that Rossel had indeed withdrawn from the movement, but blamed Rossel’s change of heart to "inaccuracies in the press." The spokesman said Shumeiko had explained his ideas for the new movement to Yeltsin when he visited the president in the hospital on November 18, and that Yeltsin had expressed understanding for the project. Preparations for the constituent conference of the new movement were going ahead and the event would take place in mid-December, the spokesman said. (Earlier, the date of December 1 had been announced.) (4)

When he first announced the creation of the movement, Shumeiko indicated that its purpose was to support a presidential bid in next June’s elections. Originally it was supposed that what he meant was that, given the apparent failure of Premier Chernomyrdin’s "Russia is Our Home" to rouse popular enthusiasm, the new movement would be a vehicle for Yeltsin. Now it looks as if what Shumeiko may have had in mind was a presidential bid by himself. Throughout his leadership, Yeltsin has followed the time-honored practice of assiduously cutting off any of his aides who showed pretensions of evolving into "crown princes." This may be what has happened to Shumeiko this week.

Chechnya Roundup.