In Defeat, Russia's Right Tries to Regroup : Politics: Yeltsin's opponents point fingers, plan rallies and just plain wonder what will become of them.


At the offices of the extremist newspaper Den (The Day) on Tuesday, employees were examining the wreckage left after an assault by government troops and wondering where their editor had been for the past three days.

Members of the Liberal Democratic Party, despite its name a rightist group, were proclaiming that "only a military dictatorship can lead the country out of this overwhelming crisis."

And in their homes, the former aides to former Vice President Alexander V. Rutskoi, who is now under arrest, were wondering whether their leader will be tried for treason or come out of his travails a popular hero.

One day after Russia's hard-line opposition was routed in Moscow by tanks and commandos loyal to President Boris N. Yeltsin, its remaining leaders contemplated their role in the future politics of the country with a mixture of fear, defiance and opportunism.

Some opposition figures are already calling for mass anti-Yeltsin demonstrations Nov. 7, the anniversary of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. Others, dismayed by the violence that arose from last weekend's rallies, shuddered at the thought.

"Can you imagine what will be the result of these kinds of demonstrations?" top Rutskoi aide Andrei Fedorov asked in an interview with CBS News. "You can't have normal democratic elections here if there is shooting in the streets."

Many are convinced that Yeltsin's first moves against the opposition presage a more stringent crackdown.

On Monday, the president banned a raft of political parties he accused of plotting violence. He also suspended publication of several opposition newspapers, including the former Communist Party organ Pravda. Censors pulled stories containing anti-government statements out of even pro-government newspapers.

The newspaper suspensions are in effect at least until Oct. 10, the period of a state of emergency in Moscow.

"Our people are shocked and waiting for their arrests," said Vasily A. Prokhanov, the son of Den's editor in chief, Alexander A. Prokhanov, and a cartoonist at the weekly newspaper.

At Pravda, unnerved editors vociferously protested that newspaper's shutdown. Sitting in front of a sandstone bust of V. I. Lenin in an editorial conference room, Deputy Editor Alexander A. Ilyin bristled Tuesday at the suggestion that the newspaper was an accomplice in calls to violence.

The newspaper, for decades the mouthpiece of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, has since the attempted hard-line coup in August, 1991, become identified with the anti-Yeltsin opposition.

"We didn't at all support the violence," Ilyin said, noting that when Pravda published announcements Saturday of the rallies planned for that day and the next, they were legal. He said he also doubts that Pravda will be allowed to publish again after the expiration of the emergency declaration.

Viktor Linnik, another deputy editor, argued that Yeltsin's rationale for the shutdown--to preserve order in Moscow--was a pretext for broader controls on the opposition.

"Three-quarters of our readers are outside Moscow, but we fax our pages to exterior printing plants from here," he said. "By preventing us from printing, they are shutting down information all over the country. When elections take place and the whole opposition voice is silenced, those elections will be counterfeit."

Several opposition leaders have already been arrested. Besides Rutskoi, they include Parliament Chairman Ruslan I. Khasbulatov and Albert Makashov, the ultra-rightist leader of the Parliament's paramilitary defense unit. All three were taken Monday from the White House, Russia's Parliament building, when government commandos overran the building.

Others are thought to be still at large. They include Viktor I. Ampilov and Ilya V. Constantinov, among the most strident of the rightist opposition leaders and the organizers of the weekend protest rallies that escalated into citywide violence.

Some opposition leaders moved hastily to distance themselves from Rutskoi, Khasbulatov and others who played a direct role in the demonstrations and in Sunday's violent storming of government installations.

"We don't support anyone in this conflict because the forces on both sides are anti-Russian and undemocratic," said Vladimir V. Zhirinovsky, an ultranationalist with possible Communist ties who ran for president against Yeltsin in 1991 and placed third with 7% of the vote.

"Yeltsin allowed all this to happen with only one purpose: the establishment of his dictatorship and elimination of all democratic, left-wing and patriotic forces," he said in an interview with The Times.

Among others who distanced themselves from Rutskoi was Vasily Lipitsky, a co-founder with the former vice president of the anti-Yeltsin coalition Civic Union.

"The leadership of the Supreme Soviet crossed the mark which separates the political struggle from crime by calling people to violence," he said. He added pointedly that for the last two years Rutskoi was only an honorary co-chairman of the party.

For their part, Rutskoi aides sought to help him distance himself from his violence-oriented compatriots, even though the vice president may have inspired the most serious violence Sunday by calling on supporters outside the White House to storm the government television station and the Moscow mayor's office.

"Rutskoi did not control the situation inside the White House," Rutskoi aide Valentin V. Perfilyev said in an interview. "He had been dragged into the crisis. The people at the White House were mostly Communists and fascists, who don't reflect Rutskoi's real position. He doesn't belong with them."

Andrei Ostroukh and Aleksei Kuznetsov of the Moscow bureau contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World