Russian Regions, ex-Soviet Republics Back Yeltsin With AM-Russia, Bjt
MOSCOW (AP) _ Regional and national leaders across the former Soviet Union sided with President Boris Yeltsin against Russia’s parliament Monday, fearing hard- liners would reimpose strict central rule if they took power.
A few hundred hard-line protesters took to the streets in St. Petersburg, and unidentified attackers reportedly tried to kill a pro-Yeltsin official in northern Siberia, according to Russian media.
Overall, however, the former Soviet Union was notably calm in comparison with Moscow, where Yeltsin sent troops and tanks to blast his political opponents out of the Russian parliament building Monday.
″If democracy wins in Russia, this will have an important influence on the current democratic process in Georgia,″ said Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze, whose troops are fighting separatists allegedly backed by Russian hard-liners.
Russia towers over the other 14 former Soviet republics in size, population and resources. It has great influence over all the new nations’ economies, and the Russian army has troops in some of the former republics.
Although not always happy with Yeltsin, most neighboring governments fear that his hard-line opponents - if they took power - would restore firmer central control over the former Soviet empire.
Several former Soviet republics warned that they would bolt from the Commonwealth of Independent States if the hard-liners won in Moscow.
Ukraine’s deputy foreign minister, Boris Tarasiuk, said that fate of the commonwealth would be decided by Russia’s power crisis. He expressed support for Yeltsin and confidence that he would prevail.
″There is every reason to state that healthy tendencies and principles within the (commonwealth) framework have a chance of survival,″ Tarasiuk said, according to the Interfax news agency.
The reaction was more complex in Russia’s own 89 regions and republics, many of which are controlled by ex-Communist officials and industrial directors who fear that Yeltsin’s reforms will deprive them of power.
Many leaders have been demanding greater economic and political autonomy from Russia’s central government, which still commands a national network of factories, farms and bureaucracies. The regions and republics even have bickered with each other over their status in a new constitution.
″I think that now they will be more ready to come to agreement with the president because he has showed his strength,″ said a Yeltsin adviser, Sergei Stankevich. ″I think that agreement is now more than possible.″
Yeltsin huddled with leaders of many regions in the Kremlin on Monday and won their nearly unanimous support, officials said. But they also demanded he convene a session of the Federation Council, a body comprising regional leaders that could become powerful if Yeltsin leans on it for support.
In an important sign of support, officials in Siberia reported that oil workers were on the job as usual Monday despite earlier threats to go on strike in support of the parliament, Energy Minister Yuri Shafranik said.
Officials in the northern Kuznetsk coal basin, whose miners long have been a pillar of support for Yeltsin, proclaimed their support in a statement by the regional government, the ITAR-Tass news agency said.
In the northern Siberian town of Kemerovo, unidentified assailants reportedly tried to shoot the regional council chief Aman Tuleyev, who has expressed support for Yeltsin, Interfax reported.
Tuleyev - a one-time critic who ran against Yeltsin for president of Russia in 1991 - was wounded when gunshots were fired through the door of his apartment, according to other regional officials during their meeting with Yeltsin Monday in the Kremlin. Tuleyev survived, and authorities were searching for the attackers, Interfax said.