The Tension Eases

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MOSCOW: President Boris Yeltsin's resounding victory over Communist Gennady Zyuganov came with "palpable sigh of relief," says TIME Moscow bureau chief Paul Quinn-Judge. Realizing that the President was back to stay, the Communist-led Russian Duma sent Boris Yeltsin a congratulatory telegram Friday, just one day after subdued Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov finally conceded defeat. Although Zyuganov complained about the "ruinous cost" of Yeltsin's election campaign, which saw the country blanketed in pro-Yeltsin media coverage and festooned with Yeltsin banners, he held out the promise of cooperation, provided the Communists were offered significant posts in the government. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin even hinted that the Communists might capture a few cabinet-level positions. "There is a general release of tension, and a feeling of hope after an unusually tense campaign season," says Quinn-Judge. The tension has not vanished from Yeltsin's own camp, however. Alexander Lebed, recruited by Yeltsin after the former soldier finished a strong third in the election's first round, is alienating some of Yeltsin's camp with his bold demands. "Lebed is ruffling feathers by saying he feels he is the savior of the country," says Quinn-Judge. "Lebed recently announced that in addition to the sweeping powers he already has as security advisor, he would like to be vice-president (a post Yeltsin abolished in 1993) as well. Chernomyrdin is not pleased, and made it clear he was not ready to give up any of his own powers." The newly appointed Lebed should take care that he doesn't wear out his welcome in the Kremlin. Boris Yeltsin brought the former soldier into the government; he can also throw Lebed out.-->