Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 1

Duma speaker Gennady Seleznev says the Duma is working on a proposal for a coalition government that will be submitted to Yeltsin by January 14. (ORT, December 26) Yeltsin reflected the same mood in an end-of-year radio address on December 26. Unusually introspective, the president spoke of the importance of "spiritual values and civil responsibility" and worried that, preoccupied with getting and spending, Russians might be losing sight of traditional national values. He said the reforms his government had undertaken had created a new breed of businessmen who were "wallowing in wealth " while ignoring the needs of the poor and the dispossessed. The gap between rich and poor was widening, Yeltsin said, and he warned against "turning the market into our new idol."

In 1997, Yeltsin said, the government had devoted all its efforts toward economic reform. It acted on the principle that, "if people lived in comfort and prosperity, everything else would fall into place." But this, Yeltsin declared, was nothing other than a parroting of the old Marxist principle that "existence determines consciousness." "We are still," he went on, "in thrall to economic materialism, …and all we’ve done is swap [Communist] Party slogans for macroeconomic ones." Yeltsin said his recent rapprochement with the Communist-dominated Duma was a step toward "replacing confrontation with dialogue." (Itar-Tass, December 26)

Yeltsin promised the government would correct its mistakes and "draw the necessary conclusions." In a New Year interview with journalists, Yeltsin urged his ministers to come up with "new ideas" and warned them to expect "serious conversations" when, on February 26, the government is due to give him an account of its performance. Many analysts took this as a hint that a government reshuffle may be on the cards and that the "young reformers," Boris Nemtsov and Anatoly Chubais, may face dismissal. (Reuter, December 30)

Yeltsin Echoes Berezovsky.