Chernomyrdin is trying to cobble together a coalition involving Communists and other opposition parties, but Monday's rejection was a bid by the opposition-controlled Duma to secure further concessions before confirming him in a later ballot. Western lenders are alarmed at the concessions Chernomyrdin has already offered, such as reintroducing Soviet-era price and exchange controls. Any further horse-trading will simply confirm doubts about a Chernomyrdin government's ability to stop the economic hemorrhaging.
Take me to your leader. That's the worst possible thing President Clinton could ask when he arrives in Moscow Tuesday, because Russia's political leadership is no closer to filling its power vacuum than it is to resolving the country's economic crisis. The Duma on Monday rejected Viktor Chernomyrdin as prime minister, while Boris Yeltsin has already accepted a lame-duck presidency by agreeing to relinquish many of his executive powers. That leaves the tycoon kingmaker Boris Berezovsky as the most powerful man in Moscow, but the latter-day Rasputin is not on Clinton's itinerary.