BORIS YELTSIN and his opponents used Victory Day celebrations yesterday to pursue their present-day political goals. A leader of last October's hardline uprising, the former vice-president Alexander Rutskoi, chose the 49th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany to make his first public appearance since being released from jail and predicted that Mr Yeltsin would fall from power within a year.
'The 50th anniversary of the victory over fascist Germany will be celebrated in completely different conditions,' he told a few thousand supporters in central Moscow. 'The police, anti-people regime (of Mr Yeltsin) will no longer exist.'
Mr Rutskoi has refused to sign a peace pact offered by Mr Yeltsin to avoid confrontation. Instead, the Afghan war veteran has set up an organisation, called the Social Patriotic Movement, which brooks no internal dissent and aims to put Mr Rutskoi in the Kremlin.
Mr Yeltsin, speaking to tens of thousands of veterans in Moscow, ignored his opponent and used the victory theme to promote his political pact. 'If we could be united during the great war, I am sure we can be united now in the building of civil peace,' he said.
The President also had a word of warning for the West: 'Today we have a unique opportunity to put an end to mutual mistrust. But it is important to remember that Russia should be treated with proper respect. Our nation will not tolerate any other treatment from anyone.'
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