November 01, 1997

Beware the Third of October!

Beware the Third of October!

As if heeding some irrepressible call from the bowels of history, Russia’s politicians made October – the month of revolution – one of the most contentious of the past year. President Boris Yeltsin sent the first shot over the bow, warning that his patience “was not without limits” when it came to parliament’s foot-dragging on his government’s legislation.

What made this statement stand out from the now “normal” atmosphere of deep conflict and mistrust was its timing. Yeltsin’s warning, in an October 3 radio address, was made on a very dark anniversary. Four years ago on this day, Yeltsin had sent tanks and paratroopers to storm the “White House,” where rebellious legislators were hold up. Hundreds died in the attack and Yeltsin’s image has been marred by the attack ever since. Nonetheless, the not-so-subtle hint that Yeltsin might dissolve parliament if it did not “behave” was caught by all.

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