Vital Signs

Waco in Moscow

The standoff between President Yeltsin and the Russian Parliament ended in flames and gunfire that can be compared to the sad scenes of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. Even the scare tactic of round-the-clock rap music was emulated by Russian spetsnats troops. Having crushed his opponents, Mr. Yeltsin returned Russia to its familiar state of one-man rule. This was to officially last until the December 11 elections and then informally continue under the fig leaf of a new "democratically elected" parliament. With his main opponents Messrs. Rutskoi and Khasbulatov locked in the infamous KGB Lefortovo prison, the election campaign will be a mock tournament between Mr. Yeltsin's very ardent and most ardent supporters.

Immediately after his "Wacoization" of the parliament, Mr. Yeltsin purged his other enemies, who by chance of fate were outside the Moscow White House. The second round of repression ousted the Supreme Court Chairman, the Prosecutor-General, and dozens of provincial leaders and local bureaucrats. The tour-de-force was staged right—Russians were reminded that Mr. Yeltsin, irrespective of his image as an indecisive and reflective casual drinker, can easily turn back into the Ivan the Terrible of the Moscow bureaucracy, the role he played successfully during his tenure as First Secretary of the Moscow Party organization from 1985 to 1987. Today, the former Politburo...

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