Gabuniya’s appointment rattled “Russia is Our Home” (ROH), the normally pro-government movement headed by former premier Viktor Chernomyrdin. ROH’s parliamentary leader Aleksandr Shokhin, who badly wanted the trade and industry portfolio for himself, was so furious when he did not get it that he announced that, since no one from ROH had been brought into the government, the movement would no longer support the government. Shokhin did not use the word “opposition.” That was, however, what his words implied. (NTV, May 10) Shokhin was slapped down by Chernomyrdin, who said that, despite ROH’s almost total lack of representation in the new cabinet, it was premature to say ROH would oppose the government’s policies since no one yet knows what these will be. (NTV, May 10)
Chernomyrdin’s efforts to paper over the cracks in his movement notwithstanding, high-level defections from ROH continue. The latest to break ranks is the powerful governor of Samara Oblast, Konstantin Titov, once one of Chernomyrdin’s closest allies and a deputy leader of ROH. Titov turned on Chernomyrdin last week, saying ROH acted precipitately when it adopted Chernomyrdin as its presidential candidate for the 2000 presidential election. Chernomyrdin, said Titov, is no longer a political figure, just “a former prime minister.” Titov’s defection follows that of Saratov Governor Dmitri Ayatskov, who says he wants to set up his own party, and the refusal by the president of Kabardino-Balkaria, Valery Kokov, to accept the post of Chernomyrdin’s deputy in the movement. (Moskovsky komsomolets, May 8) The defections indicate that ROH is losing the support of the powerful regional bosses that has until now been its chief strength.
YELTSIN ADDRESSES ARMY’S PROBLEMS.