Presidential Power Play

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MOSCOW: Coping with a weak heart and massive unpopularity, Russian President Boris Yeltsin today announced that he will "probably" run again this June. TIME's Yuri Zarakhovich believes Yeltsin's choices are narrowing: "Yeltsin has two options: to rig the election and stay in power, or to cancel it altogether. He is out to keep power. He cannot risk stepping down." Yeltsin's supporters want to avoid the consequences of handing over power to the opposition. He has changed his colors too many times, first from communist to democrat, and now to patriotic nationalist, and he has lost the confidence of the influential blocs he needs to hold the reins of power. Russia's few remaining democrats no longer support him. After the recent hostage rescue debacle at Pervomayskaya, the Army, always a shaky backer of Yeltsin's regime, will not obey his orders. The nationalists, who look to leaders like the flamboyant Zhirinovsky, will not follow Yeltsin's lead. The chaos which would ensue if Yeltsin does not leave the race, or tries to hijack the election, could lead to a constitutional crisis.