Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 93

Speculation over a possible Yeltsin/Yavlinsky coalition is at fever pitch. But Yeltsin may leave Yavlinsky to stew in his own juice for a few days. Yavlinsky is clearly under intense pressure to make a deal not only from Yeltsin allies such as Anatoly Chubais, but also from members of his own Yabloko party. There are clear signs of a split in Yabloko, with leading members speaking openly in favor of a deal with Yeltsin while Yavlinsky continues to hold back, either because of genuine moral distaste for compromise or because he hopes to wring greater concessions from Yeltsin. Yavlinsky will have to decide soon, however. The Russian press is already beginning to portray the 44-year-old economist either as the spoiler of Yeltsin’s attempts to build a democratic coalition, or as an immature politician who cannot make up his mind. Either image could damage Yavlinsky’s prospects not just in the present election, but in years to come.

Yavlinsky holds some strong cards — a fortnight ago, Chubais declared that "Russia’s fate depends on Grigory Yavlinsky" — but he needs to play his hand soon or he will find it a wasting asset. There was speculation over the weekend that Yeltsin had blundered when he declared that agreement had been reached over a coalition, only to have his claim immediately rejected by Yavlinsky. It now appears that Yeltsin spoke deliberately in order to force Yavlinsky’s hand and oblige the Yabloko leader either to join the Yeltsin team or to lay himself open to accusations that he handed the election to the Communists because he was too egotistical to cut a deal with the Kremlin.

…So Does Shumeiko.