Yeltsin’s latest illness occurs at a moment when the president and the Russian parliament seemed to be on the verge of creating extra-constitutional mechanisms to defuse the conflictual relations between executive and legislative branches that are virtually inevitable under Russia’s 1993 constitution. The next casualty of the president’s illness, after Russia’s fledgling stock market, is the inaugural roundtable between the president and representatives of political parties and trade unions that was to have taken place today.
Yeltsin’s spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky stressed yesterday that the roundtable has been postponed, not canceled. (RTR, December 10) However, the postponement of the meeting leaves unresolved both the issue of land reform, to which today’s roundtable was to have been dedicated, and the wider need for president and parliament to work out their differences. Yeltsin had extended an olive branch to parliament in recent weeks because he needed the Duma’s approval for the 1998 federal budget. In the longer run, however, the central government and the Duma seem doomed to find ways to cooperate. They need one another as allies against the increasingly assertive upper house, the Federation Council, which represents the interests of Russia’s ever more autonomous regions. Land reform is only the first issue on which the regions, frustrated by the standoff between Yeltsin’s government and the Duma, are taking the law into their own hands. (For details, see yesterday’s Monitor) The introduction of a land market is strongly supported by the leaders of 25 regions, which are pressing ahead with their own legislation, and opposed by 31, while the rest are undecided. (ORT, December 10)
Rokhlin Calls for Yeltsin’s Impeachment.