Yeltsin predicts a bumpy passage

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The Independent Online
Russia's second revolution will continue unimpeded for the next month, but the conservative and nationalist opposition could then cause trouble, President Boris Yeltsin forecast yesterday.

Marking the anniversary of last year's failed coup, Mr Yeltsin, said: 'I am confident nothing will happen in September, but October could be very difficult and we could witness some political games.' He was apparently referring to the promised offensive from conservatives in the Russian parliament who have vowed to rid Mr Yeltsin's cabinet of Yegor Gaidar, the architect of his economic reforms.

The Russian leader was optimistic about overcoming any challenge. 'It is difficult to say that we have crossed the Rubicon, that there will be no large- scale discontent, but I believe deep in my heart we will get by and live a better life in 1993.'

Any challenge to his government would fail because the neo- Communists and the extreme nationalists had no political base, he said. 'But I have a popular base.' To those who charge him with moving towards authoritarian rule, Mr Yeltsin replied: 'I believe I am a democrat. Some say my new security council (a five-man group with sweeping powers for setting Russia's political agenda) is like the Politburo, a power structure that wants to be superior. But it's not so.'

Mr Yeltsin singled out Japan as the one country of the G7 leading industrialised nations slow to help Russia because of the territorial dispute between the two over the Kurile Islands seized by Soviet troops in 1945, and he promised to settle the issue when in Tokyo next month.

The priority for Russia over the coming weeks was to press on with privatisation of state property and issue each member of the 150 million population with vouchers that could be exchanged for shares, said Mr Yeltsin.

'We don't need a few millionaires, we need millions of private owners.' The privileged system for the few was over, he promised. He announced that he was even building a dacha out of his own money. State dachas for officials were a thing of the past. 'They do not exist in the civilised world.'

The government would do its best to help those who would become unemployed, he promised. A rise in unemployment was inevitable, but the dole queues would be shorter than those in the West.

The Russian leader compared his victory in last year's failed coup with a chess game, in which he outwitted Vladimir Kryuchkov, the KGB chief. He said he persuaded Mr Kryuchkov and the other plotters, who are in jail on charges of high treason, to fly to Crimea where Mr Gorbachev was under house arrest and obtain a statement from him about the coup.

'It was kind of a chess move and they bought it. They, the fools, the whole team went.' They were arrested when they arrived at Mr Gorbachev's villa and the coup collapsed on the fourth day.

(Photograph omitted)