Yeltsin seizes chance to purge political enemies: Russian flags fly at half mast during day of mourning for 170 victims of armed uprising

AS burly riot police, red carnations in their hands, black leather boots on their feet, buried their dead yesterday, President Boris Yeltsin extended his blitz on conservative opponents, closing down Russia's highest court, forcing out a leading trade union leader, and announcing plans to downgrade the Lenin mausoleum.

Flags flew at half mast across the country yesterday, declared an official day of mourning for more than 170 people killed in an armed uprising that spilled more blood in Moscow than the 1917 revolution.

The new death-toll includes 49 bodies retrieved from the White House, pounded into submission on Monday by T-80 tanks and hundreds of soldiers called in to to supress what Mr Yeltsin condemns as a 'Communist-fascist rebellion'. Mr Yeltsin has moved rapidly since Monday to banish all remnants of the old Soviet order. He signed a decree yesterday suspending the Constitutional Court, which had frequently sided with his political enemies. 'When the risk of civil war grew, the court did nothing,' it read. The court enraged Mr Yeltsin by insisting that Russia's 1978 constitution must be respected. The court chairman, Valery Zorkin, was forced to resign on Wednesday.

Igor Klochkov, chairman of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions and a critic of Mr Yeltsin's radical free-market reforms, stepped down yesterday. There have even been suggestions from some of Mr Yeltsin's more radical supporters that the Russian Patriarch, Alexei II, should consider his position after failed attempts to mediate between parliament and president.

A day after the withdrawal of honour guards from Lenin's tomb in Red Square, officials announced yesterday that the Guard Post No 1, responsible for the mausoleum for some 60 years, would soon be abolished. In its place will be a new ceremonial unit near the eternal flame in the Kremlin Wall. There have been calls for the removal of Lenin and his tomb altogether. The Public Committe of Democratic Organisations urged Mr Yeltsin to 'destroy this symbol of communism'. 'Russia, its people and its leaders must learn a solemn lesson from this bloodshed and do everything in their power so that the tragedy cannot happen again,' said Mr Yeltsin in a message marking yesterday's day of grief.

In a small gesture of reconciliation, though, Moscow city authorities offered 250,000 roubles to every grieving family, irrespective of which side they fought.

Many of Mr Yeltsin's loudest critics are either in jail or cowed into silence. Arrested yesterday at a dacha near Tula, south of Moscow, was Viktor Anpilov, leader of the extremist Working Moscow movement. He was unarmed but wearing a bullet-proof vest. He had had with him a diary of the Moscow events, Tass reported.

Ruslan Khasbulatov, the speaker of the disbanded legislature, and former Vice-President Alexander Rutskoi were reported to be eating cabbage soup and herring in solitary confinement at Lefortovo Prison. The warden said 160 people involved in the White House battle were taken to Lefortovo, including 15-year-old boys, policemen and soldiers. Two-thirds have been freed.

With most of the opposition silenced by decree, there has been little public criticism of Mr Yeltsin. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, head of the semi-autonomous republic of Kalmykia, on the Caspian Sea, made a rare critical comment. 'We now see the dictatorship of Yeltsin's entourage, a dictarship that will spread to the regions.' Mr Ilymuzhinov, a millionaire who won an April election after promising every elector dollars 100, has himself been accused of being a dictator.

Leading article, page 25

Conor Cruise O'Brien, page 26

Suppressed article, page 26

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
News
Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, right, met at Havana Golf Club in 1962 to mock the game
newsFidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
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

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?