Yeltsin, foes accept talks to end split Pressure against him beginning to grow

October 01, 1993|By Kathy Lally | Kathy Lally,Moscow Bureau

MOSCOW -- After 10 days of applying ever more intense and dangerous pressure against his foes in the Russian parliament, President Boris N. Yeltsin agreed yesterday to talk to the enemy.

Though both sides appeared interested in stemming the growing violence on the streets of Moscow, they also held firmly to the vastly differing political positions that began the crisis in the first place. Immense and treacherous ground must still be covered before any resolution can be reached.

In addition to abolishing parliament, Mr. Yeltsin called for elections to a new parliament in December and later said there would be presidential elections in June. In addition to the restoration of their place in politics, his opponents in parliament want simultaneous elections earlier next year.

The two sides were brought together by Alexei II, the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, perhaps the only figure of standing in the country who has not taken a publicly partisan stand in the dispute.

Representatives from each side are to meet today with the patriarch at the Danilovsky Monastery, his Moscow headquarters. Both sides were at turns cautious and optimistic yesterday at the prospect of a compromise.

"I am in favor of a dialogue," said Sergei B. Stankevich, a Yeltsin adviser. "I consider only one thing to be non-negotiable. We cannot go back to the situation that existed before Sept. 20 [when Mr. Yeltsin moved to abolish the legislature]. Discussing that possibility is meaningless. We should proceed from the situation obtaining now."

But the legislators were insisting on the opposite: that President Yeltsin rescind his decision of Sept. 21 dissolving parliament.

Behind the barricades in the parliament building, CNN reported that Alexander V. Rutskoi, a leader of the opposition in parliament and Mr. Yeltsin's vice president, was willing to negotiate "restoration of the constitution and standing of parliament," but not surrender of the building.

But he sent a message to the patriarch, saying, "You have in my person a resolute supporter of your efforts to organize a mediatory meeting."

The crisis began September 21 when Mr. Yeltsin dissolved the antagonistic Congress of People's Deputies. The parliament refused to retreat, appointed Mr. Rutskoi president and organized resistance from within their building, known as the White House.

Tension has grown steadily since then. Last night, hundreds of demonstrators were dispersing and regrouping in squares and subway stations near the White House, pushed back by police wielding nightsticks. Russian television reported several people were injured. It was the third night of clashes.

Yesterday, representatives of 62 of Russia's 88 regions met in Moscow and issued an ultimatum demanding that Mr. Yeltsin end the siege of the parliament building and rescind his decree dissolving the Communist-era legislature.

They said if he did not do so by midnight last night, they would apply "all the necessary measures of economic and political pressure to insure the restoration of constitutional legislation."

Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakrai, Mr. Yeltsin's chief legal adviser, said the president would ignore the ultimatum. Those at the meeting, he said, had no authority to act on behalf of their regions.

Attempt to block railroad

In far-off Siberia, anti-Yeltsin leaders met in Novosibirsk yesterday, threatening to establish a Siberian republic if Mr. Yeltsin did not back down. And a crowd there attempted to block the Trans-Siberian Railway in a protest against the president. They were moved by police.

Mr. Yeltsin acted to subdue the growing ferment in the countryside by sending Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and six of his deputies across Russia to marshal support.

At the same time, Mr. Yeltsin insisted he would avoid violence at the White House.

Mr. Shakrai told the Interfax news agency the president was ready to withdraw the thousands of policemen around the parliament building if those inside handed over their guns.

Mr. Rutskoi reportedly offered to turn in the weapons if the troops were withdrawn and heat and light were restored to the building.

Monday deadline

Mr. Yeltsin, who is planning a trip to Japan Oct. 12, had set a Monday deadline for the rebellious parliament to hand over the guns and evacuate the building.

A Yeltsin spokesman said that the president's chief of staff, Sergei Filatov, and First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets would represent the president at the mediation talks today.

Parliament is expected to be represented by Ramazan Abdulatipov and Veniamin Sokolov, both high-ranking officials in the legislature. The two men, however, left the parliament

several days ago, and it was not clear if those inside would accept their representation.

"I think the patriarch's offer is indispensable," said Gennady Burbulis a close Yeltsin adviser and former Cabinet member. "It shows an impulse, a desire to break the vicious circle while preserving political and human dignity."

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