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Yeltsin Rejects Dual-Voting Plan

By Susan Benkelman


President Boris N. Yeltsin Monday ruled out a compromise with his parliamentary foes under which presidential and legislative elections would be held simultaneously as a way to end Russia's weeklong political crisis.

With his adversaries still barricaded in the Russian Parliament building, or White House, Yeltsin repeated his demand for parliamentary elections in December and presidential balloting next June. He said simultaneous elections would cause an unnecessary power vacuum in Russia.

"I am categorically against it," Yeltsin said in an interview on Russian television. "Dual power is very dangerous, but the absence of power is twice as dangerous. When both powers are involved in elections, they simply have no time for anything else."

On Sept. 21, Yeltsin dissolved Parliament and scheduled December elections for a new national legislature as a way to end the long, paralyzing standoff between the executive and legislative branches. Since then, Parliament Chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov and Yeltsin's renegade vice president, Alexander Rutskoi, have essentially been living out of the White House, proclaiming themselves the legitimate leaders of Russia and protecting their territory with armed guards.

But with water, telephone and electricity lines cut off and the number of supporters outside dwindling from a high of 500 on Saturday, the legislators have become more and more isolated. Khasbulatov said Monday that he had expected the government to order troops to storm the White House, but that the planned attack had been called off for some reason.

Officials in Yeltsin's government have denied that they planned any such raid.

However, a Yeltsin administration official, Vyacheslav Volkov, said Monday that about 600 firearms were handed out at the White House, creating a dangerous situation and prompting officials to decide to close it off completely. As recently as Monday, pedestrians were allowed to go near the White House to demonstrate support for the lawmakers, but through only one opening in a police barricade and through very strict security.

Volkov said 170 to 180 former deputies remained inside, where, he said, sanitary conditions were "deplorable." Apart from those, he said, 76 deputies were taking Yeltsin up on his offer to take jobs in his administration and 114 more were considering it.

As the situation deteriorated inside the White House, some outside began looking for a compromise that would allow the parliamentarians to save face in what appears to be a humiliating defeat at the hands of the president.