A Revolutionary Retreat

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MOSCOW: Russia’s Communist opposition narrowly escaped their worst nightmare in parliament this week — winning.

They breathed easier Wednesday following a deal with President Boris Yeltsin, which allowed them to withdraw their vote of no-confidence, and hunker down for a winter of cozy coexistence.

"The Communists seemed desperate not to win the no-confidence vote, and seemed on the verge of panic when it looked as if they might," said TIME Moscow Bureau Chief Paul Quinn-Judge.

Why so coy? Toppling the government would mean new elections — anathema to the left right now. "The Communists want a consultative voice at this stage," says Quinn-Judge, "and they are extremely reluctant to actually play a role in government."

With Lenin’s heirs prefering parliamentary perks to a shot at power, Yeltsin had to concede little in order to restore a modus vivendi. Even 80 years after they first seized power, the greatest fear of Russia’s revolutionaries is change.