Boris Duels the Duma

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MOSCOW: This is the week, says TIME Moscow correspondent Andrew Meier, that Russia's economic crisis turns into a political one. With the Russian markets tumbling and Boris Yeltsin's massive economic reform package languishing in parliament, the Russian president has begun what could be a noisy and protracted stare-down with his hostile legislators. "Let the Duma hurry up," Yeltsin said today. "I have done my part of the job."

"Yeltsin is essentially asking the Duma to rewrite a good chunk of Russian law in the next few weeks, and of course as long as they work on it he'll blame everything on them," says Meier. "They'll take every chance they can to drag their feet. At some point, either Yeltsin will do something drastic and disband parliament, or they'll all work out some kind of deal." But by adding the declaration that "we have no crisis" to his comments today, Yeltsin proved once again that his main disadvantage in any political shouting match is his own mouth. "That was just extraordinary stupidity," says Meier. "By now, everyone has stopped listening."