Communist Criticism Shifts From Gorbachev To Yeltsin With PM-Soviet-Politics, Bjt
MOSCOW (AP) _ Russian President Boris Yeltsin today issued a decree taking over control of Soviet central television and radio, a move that was likely to prompt new accusations of anti-democratic behavior.
Tass quoted the decree as saying the TV and radio will broadcast news from Russia and the new commonwealth. The broadcast service will be headed by Yegor Yakovlev, the former editor of the weekly Moscow News, who is considered one of the fathers of Mikhail Gorbachev’s policy of glasnost.
Yeltsin is beginning to come under some of the same kind of criticism faced by former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. Orthodox Communists see the Russian president’s policies as a betrayal of socialism, and even reformers in his own camp worry that Yeltsin’s approach is not democratic enough.
Yeltsin’s opponents moved quickly after Gorbachev’s resignation Wednesday. Communists in St. Petersburg, birthplace of the Bolshevik revolution, urged the Russian government to give them the Soviet flag removed from the Kremlin after Gorbachev quit.
″We pledge to rehoist it over the Kremlin in the near future,″ the Russian Communist Workers’ Party said in a statement.
Though divided and somewhat distrusted, Communists, also referred to in Russia as ″conservatives″ and ″right-wingers,″ could be in a prime position to capitalize on the popular discontent expected to swell after prices soar next week.
Their support is hard to gauge. They range from enigmatic hard-liners such as Vladimir Zhirinovsky to the moderate Russian vice president Alexander Rutskoi, an ex-Communist reformer who sided with Yeltsin last summer. They are united by opposition to harsh market reforms.
Yeltsin himself warned Wednesday that people who supported the failed hard- line August coup were hoping to ride a public backlash against his plan to liberalize prices, ″which is extremely unpopular with the people.
″The right-wing forces might use popular dissent and resentment during this period. Therefore we have to be vigilant,″ Yeltsin told Russian lawmakers. Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze has made a similar warning.
Yeltsin long has been the target of hard-line ire. But the criticism has grown in recent days. Several thousand pro-Communist demonstrators staged a mock ″hunger line″ in Moscow on Sunday to denounce Yeltsin and the new Commonwealth of Independent States made up of former Soviet republics.
Hundreds of protesters condemned Yeltsin’s reforms the same day in St. Petersburg.
Yevgeny Kogan, founder of the once-powerful Soyuz bloc of hard-liners in the defunct Soviet Parliament, told The Associated Press on Thursday ″it is unclear whether Yeltsin would be able to withstand the popular pressure after taking the unpopular decisions.″
Kogan said he doubted ″Yeltsin will be able to play the role of the man who will re-unite the country split up by Gorbachev. In trying to remove Gorbachev, Yeltsin has driven too many wedges into the foundation of the state.″
The newspaper Izvestia said Thursday that Zhirinovsky’s supporters fought with hecklers in Minsk after he told a rally to dump the commonwealth and become ″a Russian province.″ Zhirinovsky also reportedly was beaten.
One of Yeltsin’s biggest opponents may be Rutskoi. Yeltsin had picked the Afghan war veteran as vice president in June in a bid to tap Rutskoi’s support in the military and among Communist reformers.
But Rutskoi has criticized Yeltsin boldly in recent weeks, saying he is ruling by decree and fomenting unrest by more than 100 million people whom Rutskoi claims live below the poverty line in the republic of 147 million.
″Now there is neither government nor democracy in Russia, and if there is anarchy in the country, this can lead to unpredictable consequences,″ Rutskoi said Thursday, the Interfax news agency reported.
In an allusion to 74 years of communism, Rutskoi called Yeltsin’s reforms ″another grand experiment on the country,″ Interfax reported.
Though Rutskoi helped lead the fight against the coup, he moved quickly afterward to nurture his own political base. He founded the Party of Free Russia with other ex-Communists. He has supporters in a Russian parliament bloc called Civil Accord, formerly Communists for Democracy.
A former lieutenant colonel, Rutskoi also has close ties to the Soviet military-industrial complex, although he insists soldiers would never take part in a power struggle.