Another Communist Call for Yeltsin to Step Down
MOSCOW (AP) _ Still bitter about last summer’s election defeat, Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov demanded Monday that Boris Yeltsin step down because of ill health and let Russia elect a new president.
Zyuganov said Russian history shows that when the czar is weak, the nobles fight among themselves, weakening the nation. And with Yeltsin ill, he said, debilitating power struggles within the Kremlin are inevitable.
``It would be good for Yeltsin himself, for his family and for the country as a whole if he steps down,″ said Zyuganov, whom Yeltsin defeated by 40 million votes to 30 million in a July runoff. ``It would be the most decent way out.″
Yeltsin has been hospitalized since Sept. 13 with heart trouble and faces a multiple bypass operation in November or December. Doctors say he will probably need two months after that to recuperate.
Zyuganov, who has urged Yeltsin to quit several times, said Yeltsin ``cheated″ the nation by concealing the seriousness of his heart trouble during the election campaign.
A number of political rivals have called on Yeltsin to resign, including former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who came in seventh in the 10-man presidential contest.
Yeltsin has promised to temporarily transfer full presidential powers to Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin during his operation. If Yeltsin dies or is incapacitated, the prime minister would take over and new elections would be held within three months.
One of Zyuganov’s close allies, Agrarian Party leader Mikhail Lapshin, disagreed with him Monday, saying Yeltsin should stay in office despite his ailment.
``(Yeltsin) must remain the president of Russia during the term for which the nation elected him, perform his duties and carry out in full the numerous promises he made during his election campaign,″ the Interfax news agency quoted Lapshin as saying.
Under doctors’ orders to work no more than two or three hours a day, Yeltsin sent separate messages Monday to the leaders of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Belarus.
According to his press service, Yeltsin told Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko that ``much remains to be done″ to put into effect a controversial treaty making Russia and Belarus closer partners. He also expressed hopes for lasting peace in a message to the new Bosnian leadership.