Left and liberals round on Yeltsin

HELEN WOMACK

Moscow

Communists and liberal reformers alike heaped criticism on President Boris Yeltsin yesterday for his handling of Russia's latest hostage crisis when the newly-elected State Duma met for the first time.

Comments from the Communist leader, Gennady Zyuganov, that it would be better if Mr Yeltsin did not stand for a second term in June's presidential election were predictable. But the decision by the liberal Yabloko grouping to seek a vote of no-confidence in the government over the crisis in Pervomayskoye was a blow. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's Our Home is Russia bloc was counting on co-operation from Yabloko to restrain the Communists and nationalists in the new parliament.

Looking further ahead, many analysts believe Mr Yeltsin would only have a chance of winning the presidency again if the Yabloko leader, Grigory Yavlinksy, sacrificed his own presidential ambitions and supported him against Communist and nationalist candidates. But yesterday's outburst from Yabloko left little hope of that.

While Russian troops continued to battle with Chechen rebels in an attempt to free scores of hostages still trapped in Pervomayskoye, Yabloko declared the present Kremlin administration incapable. "Yeltsin and Chernomyrdin are dangerous for society, both with their action and their lack of action," it said in a written statement.

With only 45 deputies in the 450-seat Duma, Yabloko is far from the majority of 226 votes needed to carry a motion of no-confidence. But if the dominant Communists, with 158 seats, and some nationalists and independents backed the move, the government could be in trouble.

Mr Zyuganov did not commit himself to an immediate attack, however, saying only he would like to see Mr Yeltsin stepping down to give fresh politicians a chance in the election.

"It would be better for Boris Yeltsin and the whole country if Boris Yeltsin did not put himself forward for another term at the presidential election for health reasons," he said. Asked how the operation to free the hostages would affect Mr Yeltsin's election chances, the Communist leader said: "I think nothing can boost his chances because his policies have become completely bankrupt and collapsed."

Mr Yeltsin, who has only just returned to work after recovering from his second heart attack, has said he will announce next month whether he intends to stand.

More government heads may roll over the debacle in Pervomayskoye. But first the Russian army must complete the rescue operation it launched on Monday. Mr Yeltsin promised the storming would be over with minimum bloodshed the same day. But yesterday, with only 26 of the estimated 100 hostages released safely, crack troops had still to overcome the militants, led by Salman Raduyev, who is related by marriage to the Chechen leader, Dzhokhar Dudayev.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Arts and Entertainment
(L-R) Amanda Peet as Tina Morris, Melanie Lynskey as Michelle Pierson, Abby Ryder Fortson as Sophie Pierson, Mark Duplass as Brett Pierson and Steve Zissis as Alex Pappas in Togetherness
TV First US networks like HBO shook up drama - now it's comedy's turn
Travel
Pool with a view: the mMarina Bay Sands in Singapore
travel From Haiti and Alaska to Namibia and Iceland
News
The will of Helen Beatrix Heelis, better known as Beatrix Potter, was among those to be archived
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
News
Nigel Farage: 'I don't know anybody in politics as poor as we are'
i100
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

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect