Anti-Yeltsin mood brews in Moscow

THE FEW dozen pro-Yeltsin demonstrators who early yesterday faced a larger Communist crowd, as if presaging the civil war that would be Russia's worst scenario, were gone by mid-morning and the sea of red flags outside the State Duma swelled. Inside, the push to impeach the President moved on relentlessly.

Gennady Seleznyov, the Speaker, predicted a narrow vote to impeach Boris Yeltsin on at least one of five counts today. If the Duma passes at least one impeachment charge, the case goes before the country's top two courts, the Supreme Court and Constitutional Court, before the upper house of parliament takes a final vote on the matter. The country faces constitutional deadlock, however, because if the Duma also votes down Mr Yeltsin's new candidate for prime minister, Sergei Stepashin, three times, then it must be disbanded.

Such constitutional niceties were not preoccupying the highly emotional crowds in the street outside. Wearing old spectacles that I could afford to have smashed, and a coat so shabby that spittle could hardly spoil it, I gingerly penetrated this gathering, as hostile to the West as the Iranian mob that 20 years ago denounced America as the "Great Satan".

An elderly Jew in a beret stood on the edge of the crowd, holding up a sign that listed, as he saw it, the results of Boris Yeltsin's rule: "Collapse, war, chaos, crime, corruption, lies, treachery, sabotage." He did not seem to notice that all around him, people were raising other placards with the Star of David crossed out and cursing the "chief Yid, Boris Eltsman".

In a mild manner, this gentleman, who gave only his first name, Igor, began explaining how he had personally suffered from the bungled Yeltsin reforms. "I was an engineer. I lost my job when our institute was `privatised'. I was close to pension age and after that I could only get odd jobs. My pension now is 400 roubles [US$16) a month. My wife and I live on nothing but porridge, bread and potatoes."

Yelena Sergeyevna, a choir mistress in an emerald green suit, complained that things were so bad that her students at the Conservatory fainted from hunger in class. "Our old people go rooting for food in rubbish bins. We are not looking for luxury. We just want a decent life. But all the money from the West went straight to Chubais [Anatoly, former reforming minister] and Yeltsin's corrupt daughter."

Their dissatisfaction was easy to understand - but were they not afraid of a descent into violence? "Things can't get any worse," Igor began. A young man in a black leather jacket interrupted him, saying: "Revolution is the only way, grandad. The only hope is through blood. We must be ready to die so our children can live. Now we are lower than slaves. At least they feed slaves."

"Yids, yids, it's all the fault of the yids," another man joined in, "and the Yankees, but they're yids anyway. Are you American?"

"No, British." With that, out came all the accumulated anti-Western resentment. A middle-aged woman with a peroxide beehive harangued me for Nato's policy on Yugoslavia. "What gives you the right to think you can bomb innocent civilians? You say you're for human rights and democracy but you're worse than fascists."

Ironic though it may seem, the best chance for stability in Russia may be for the Duma to vote in favour of impeaching Mr Yeltsin, as this process is a safety valve through which pent-up anger can be expressed. If the vote goes against the Kremlin leader, then deputies are more likely to endorse Mr Stepashin. This is because they will have an interest in keeping their seats and seeing the impeachment move further to the courts and the senate. And there, of course, it is likely to fail.

If, on the other hand, the Communists are deprived of their satisfaction, then the confrontation could move on to the streets, as it did in October 1993, when Mr. Yeltsin sent tanks against rebellious deputies in the White House. The only difference is that the ageing President has far less popular support now than he did then.

Arts and Entertainment
TV Review: Sabotage, a meltdown and, of course, plenty of sauce
News
newsVideo for No campaign was meant to get women voting
News
A photo of Charles Belk being detained by police on Friday 22 August
news
News
i100'Geography can be tough'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
Louis van Gaal looks dejected after Manchester United's 4-0 defeat by MK Dons on Tuesday night
sport
News
Actor, model and now record breaker: Jiff the Pomeranian
Video
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
News
i100
News
Down time: an employee of Google uses the slide to get to the canteen
scienceBosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
News
i100
News
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Primary Teaching Supply

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS2 Supply Teacher r...

Primary Teaching Supply

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS2 Supply Teacher re...

KS1 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Supply Teacher re...

Primary Teacher

£90 - £145 per day + travel expenses: Randstad Education Newcastle: Year 3 Tea...

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?