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Yeltsin's Foes Not Simply the `Bad Guys'

The Monitor's news coverage of developments in Russia since President Boris Yeltsin abolished the parliament on Sept. 21 has provided useful breadth and depth. The Monitor's enthusiastic editorial support for Yeltsin's actions, however, seems less insightful. The editorial ``Press On, Mr. Yeltsin,'' Sept. 23, applauds Yeltsin and compares him to Lincoln. Members of parliament are characterized as ``nationalists and hacks.'' Forgotten is the fact that both Yeltsin and the parliamentarians were elected prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union and that both those elections, at the time, were portrayed as great victories for freedom and reform.

In the Monitor's coverage of the Russian parliament prior to 1992 I find nothing about a communist-dominated, ``hidebound'' parliament. Just the opposite. Both Alexander Rutskoi and Ruslan Khasbulatov were appointed by Yeltsin and joined him in defending democracy in August 1991.

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The article ``East Rethinks Pace, Not Goal, of Reform,'' Oct. 26, although it does not devote one word to Russia, provides essential insight into the issues that were dividing supporters of Yeltsin's ``shock therapy'' program from members of parliament who sought a different reform route for Russia. If Lithuania and Poland can reject shock therapy politicians, why is it unthinkable that there should be respectable political figures in Russia who oppose Yeltsin and his colleagues?

The tragedy of polarized politics in Russia stems from real-life economic and social issues, not from simplistic notions of good guys versus bad guys. David Johnson, Washington, D.C.

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