Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 229

Russian president Boris Yeltsin is due to consult this morning with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and the speakers of the two houses of the Russian parliament in the second meeting of the "Big Four." The task of today’s meeting is to prepare for the first roundtable between the president and representatives of political parties and movements, including opposition parties and trade unions, which Yeltsin will chair in the Kremlin on Thursday afternoon. The roundtable will discuss the draft land code that has been passed by both houses of parliament but vetoed by the president. Duma speaker Gennady Seleznev said opposition parliamentarians attending the roundtable will ask the president to sign the land code into law. Yeltsin’s chief aide, Valentin Yumashev, said the president remains committed to the creation of a free market in land, which the draft code outlaws.

Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov said opposition leaders will call on Yeltsin at the roundtable to replace the present government by a coalition "government of popular trust" in which the Communists and their allies would hold around a third of the portfolios. He threatened that, if Yeltsin refuses, the opposition will block further passage of the draft 1998 federal budget. But Seleznev, himself a Communist of more pragmatic bent, said that this issue would not be raised at today’s Big Four meeting. President Yeltsin’s press secretary indicated that Yeltsin does not intend to discuss the possibility of changing the government at this stage. Opposition members are also expected to press at Thursday’s meeting for the roundtable to be institutionalized and given decision-making powers. (Itar-Tass, December 8)

Regions Take Land Reform Into Their Own Hands.