Soviet Turmoil

In response to The Times’ editorial “This Could Be a Second Russian Revolution” (Aug. 24):

Your editorial was quite perceptive in noting that Boris Yeltsin’s “opportunistic willingness to ignore constituted legal procedures” does not bode well for the developing democratic pluralism within the Soviet Union.

While Yeltsin’s courage in the wake of the hard-line coup is undeniable, his intemperate use of the unilateral decree and his coercive bullying of President Gorbachev do not exactly qualify him as the standard-bearer of Jeffersonian democracy.

Passion is undoubtedly high at this moment in the streets of Moscow. Let us hope, however, that the “rule of law” and not the law of revolutionary excess will usher in a new era of reform within the Soviet Union. Before we allow either policy-makers or pundits to write off Gorbachev as “irrelevant,” it is worth remembering who first opened the door to the types of political expression that were once unimaginable within the boundaries of the formerly “evil empire.”