The revamped Communists, under Gennady Zyuganov, had no economic specialists and the chances of them turning out to be moderate after June's poll were slim. Rather, they were likely to nationalise and even confiscate property. "The price of this [a Communist] victory will be terrible," he said.
Mr Chubais's decision to involve himself in the campaign will boost Mr Yeltsin, whose ratings have been rising. Mr Zyuganov remains the front- runner but some Russians have been put off by a Communist-inspired vote in the State Duma denouncing the dismantling of the Soviet Union. They have taken this to mean the true colours of the Communists are not pink but dark red.
Mr Chubais, who was First Deputy Prime Minister until January, was blamed by Mr Yeltsin for the poor showing of the government party, Our Home is Russia, in December's parliamentary elections, won by the Communists.
Yesterday he said he would remain outside the government, even if Mr Yeltsin won, and from an independent position would tell the Kremlin leader unpalatable truths.