Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 101

A close Yeltsin associate, Vladimir Shumeiko, has written to six presidential candidates urging them to stand aside in Yeltsin’s favor. (Interfax, May 23) The six are Svyatoslav Fedorov, Aleksandr Lebed, Mikhail Gorbachev, Grigory Yavlinsky, Martin Shakkum and Vladimir Bryntsalov. Shakkum and Bryntsalov are said already to be looking for ways of standing aside without losing face, and Fedorov has expressed willingness to join a coalition. But Lebed has repeatedly said he will not drop out of the race, and Gorbachev has said he supports neither Yeltsin nor Zyuganov and will call on his supporters to vote against both men if they make it to the second round. Yavlinsky’s press office reminded the world May 23 that Yavlinsky’s ultimatum expires this weekend: he will consider making a deal only if Yeltsin has by May 25 sacked Prime Minister Chernomyrdin, First Deputy Premier Soskovets, defense minister Grachev, and chief-of-staff Yegorov. (Interfax, May 23)

Yeltsin may have his own reasons for wanting to be rid of several of these men, but will not want to be seen to be acting under pressure. So, while the Russian press is full of speculation that Yeltsin will sack both Chernomyrdin and Grachev, the consensus is that he will do so as a vote-catching gesture immediately following the first round of the election. Russian commentators believe, too, that Yuri Luzhkov is more likely than Yavlinsky to replace Chernomyrdin, and Boris Gromov more likely than Lebed to replace Grachev.

Yeltsin Marks Military Anniversary, Promises Defense Funding…