CBSN

Waiting For Yeltsin's Next Move

What made news in Russia today was what President Boris Yeltsin did not do, reports CBS News Moscow Correspondent Richard Threlkeld.

After Monday's second parliamentary rejection of Viktor Chernomyrdin, his candidate for prime minister, Yeltsin did not immediately resubmit his name.

Instead, Yeltsin and his close advisors were closeted at his retreat outside Moscow and presumably trying to figure out how to break the political stalemate.

Yeltsin has only until next Monday to forward a candidate to parliament. If his nominee is rejected for a third time, the parliament will be dissolved and there will be new elections -- a prospect that scares everybody involved.

The opposition insists Chernomyrdin will be rejected if he is nominated again.

Yeltsin's opponents are more partial to Yevgeny Primakov, a former KGB official who is now foreign minister and who is not especially friendly to America or the West. However, Primakov said on Tuesday that he's not interested.

Moscow's populist and ambitious mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, also claimed he didn't want the job. Luzhkov, however, did not sound quite as convincing.

Everyone here is waiting for Boris Yeltsin to decide his next move, which could come on Wednesday. In the meantime, Russians are more aware than ever of their old anecdote about the pessimist and the optimist. The pessimist says "Things are so bad in Russia they can't possibly get any worse." The optimist says, "Oh yes they can."

Reported by Richard Threlkeld
©1998, CBS Worldwide Inc., All Rights Reserved