Boris Yeltsin met with his reelection team yesterday to put the final touches to his campaign. Itar-Tass reported today that Yeltsin will meet with Grigory Yavlinsky on Thursday or Friday, and the outcome of their talks will determine the position of the Yabloko party in the second round of the presidential elections. Yavlinsky, leader of Yabloko, won 7 percent of the vote in the first round of the election. Interviewed by Russian Television last night, Yavlinsky explained his party’s current position. (ORT, June 25) He said he would agree "to do as Lebed did" (that is, enter an alliance with Yeltsin and urge his supporters to vote for the president in the second round) but only if Yeltsin agreed to make further changes in his policies.
Although Yeltsin’s alliance with Lebed appears to have won popular approval and Yeltsin is behaving for all the world as if he had already been reelected president, he still needs the votes of Yavlinsky’s supporters to be certain of winning reelection on July 3. Yeltsin is therefore quite likely to try to satisfy at least some of Yavlinsky’s demands, most probably by trying to be seen to be making progress toward a settlement in Chechnya.
However Yavlinsky is not dealing from a position of strength. Many of his supporters, who in the first round voted for their dream candidate, will adopt a more pragmatic attitude in the second round — and will vote in any case for Yeltsin as the lesser of two perceived evils. Yavlinsky’s bargaining position was also weakened by Yeltsin’s first-round strategy of demonizing the Communist party and polarizing the electorate into choosing between "freedom" (Yeltsin) and "tyranny" (Zyuganov). This undercut Yavlinsky, who had tried to present himself as the democratic alternative.
Defense Ministry Purge Gathers Speed.