More than two months after the failed KGB coup in the Soviet Union, nervousness is setting in. The heady days of democratic rhetoric are over. A winter of hardships unfelt since World War II is knocking at the door. Listen to the poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko -- because Russians themselves often equate poets with seers: "You cannot eat or wear freedom of speech and it will not heat your home in winter. We thought freedom would be a magic key to prosperity. But it does not work."
Even political adversaries welcomed a declaration this week by Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin that he would be his own prime minister in implementing needed but painful fundamental reforms. Politicians seemed relieved that he called for the postponement of regional elections, labeling them a "luxury" and saying: "It is impossible to hold vast election campaigns and simultaneously carry out deep-seated economic changes."
Specifically, Mr. Yeltsin proposed to lift price controls by year's end, to accelerate sharply the privatization of agriculture and light industry and to turn off the money flow that finances the central government's bureaucracies, including the Foreign Ministry. "If we enter on this path today, we will have concrete results by the fall of 1992," Mr. Yeltsin stated. "If we do not take a concrete step to break the unfavorable course of events, we will doom ourselves to poverty and doom a state with a history of many centuries to collapse."