Zyuganov grudgingly acknowledged defeat July 3, sending Yeltsin a telegram congratulating him on his victory. Zyuganov told journalists that the fact that 33 million people had voted for the candidate of the national-patriotic bloc should ensure that a number of key posts in a coalition government go to the Communists and their allies. Zyuganov’s precise intentions were unclear, however, since he said that, while he expected cabinet posts for his allies, he and they would continue to function as the opposition, and might form a shadow cabinet. Zyuganov said there are plans to transform the national-patriotic bloc that supported his candidacy into a mass movement, and that such a move will be discussed Saturday at a meeting of leading members of the bloc. Zyuganov opined that the presidential election saw the birth of a true two-party system in Russia. (Interfax, July 4)
However many commentators believe that Zyuganov’s defeat will provoke the Russian Communist party’s final and decisive split into a moderate, a social-democratic party, and a radical, Marxist rump. Such a split would undermine the dominance of Communist deputies in the Duma, and might make it easier for a Yeltsin government in future to cooperate with parliament over contentious issues such as land ownership. If no such accommodation is found, Yeltsin may decide to dissolve the Duma and call fresh parliamentary elections.
Newly reappointed Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin ridiculed Zyuganov’s proposal that Communists should both hold seats in a coalition government and at the same time form an opposition. Either one was in the government and acted as a team player, or one was not, Chernomyrdin said, and one could not be both at once. Prior to the election, Chernomyrdin had expressed cautious approval of the idea of a coalition with Communist members, but since Yeltsin’s convincing victory he seems to have turned against it. Chernomyrdin also rejected the idea that Grigory Yavlinsky should be invited to join a coalition government. "What has he done for anyone recently?" he demanded. (Russian Television, July 4)
Power Struggle Brewing Between Chernomyrdin and Lebed.