Yeltsin’s election would hardly be automatic. First he must evade a constitutional two-term limit. Yeltsin’s aides argue that since his first election in 1991 was under the old Soviet constitution, he has, under the 1993 Russian constitution, served only once. A more practical problem is support. The business and media coalition that backed Yeltsin in 1996 is no more, and his onetime supporters are no longer sure he is electable -— or desirable.
Why would Yeltsin run again? One answer -- power -- is obvious. Another answer is fear. Other top politicians have in their retirement been hounded by corruption charges and embarrassed by revelations about their private lives.