Yeltsin's Warning Shot

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MOSCOW: On the surface, Boris Yeltsin's speech to the Russian parliament Tuesday was familiarly hollow stuff about ending "foot-dragging and delays" and turning Russian economic reform into "a program of action." But TIME Moscow correspondent Andrew Meier thinks a political storm may be brewing beneath the blather.

"Yeltsin hinted very strongly that he might disband the parliament if they don't pass his program quickly," he says. "When that drew screams of horror from the Duma, Yeltsin barreled right on, but it's a signature move -- soften up the ground with rhetorical bombing, and then do something big a few days later." The likeliest options: Yeltsin fires Kiriyenko; Kiriyenko fires the cabinet; or, as hinted, Yeltsin sends the entire Duma packing. Of course Boris may be bluffing, but with the IMF in town to discuss loans, the pressure is on for Yeltsin to get results -- or swing his axe.