Russians Take to the Streets

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As many as 10 million Russians may have joined Communist anti-Yeltsin demonstrations throughout Russia on Wednesday, but don't expect them to storm the Kremlin any time soon. "The numbers fell well short of the 40 million promised by the organizers," says TIME Moscow bureau chief Paul Quinn-Judge. "And the striking thing is that the demonstrators are still mostly older, working-class people. Despite the economic crisis, the Communists don't appear to have broadened their appeal." The fact that they're now, for all intents and purposes, part of the government probably doesn't help.

Russians certainly have plenty to complain about, with their economy in free fall and many salaries unpaid for a year. Yevgeny Primakov's government has promised that Russians will be paid "every last kopeck" owed them by the government. But if he proceeds with plans to print new money in order to do that, the attendant hyperinflation could make a year's back pay worth little more than a pile of kopecks. And that could get a lot more than 10 million people onto the street.