NEW YORK (Sep. 23)
Russia’s central Jewish organization is firmly supporting President Boris Yeltsin in the constitutional crisis that has pitted him against Russia’s hardline Parliament.
On Tuesday, Yeltsin dissolved Parliament and called for new elections. The move was resisted by the Russian Parliament but accepted by most of the rest of the Russian government and military, as well as by the world community, including the United States.
The Parliament, which claimed that Yeltsin forfeited his post by his decree, elected Vice President Alexander Rutskoi to serve in his stead. The last parliamentary elections were held prior to Russian independence.
Meeting Wednesday, the Russian Vaad, the country’s federation of Jewish organizations and communities, took its place squarely in the Yeltsin camp.
In its statement, the Vaad said that Russia’s future is being determined by the present confrontation.
“In this situation the leadership of the Jewish community of the country finds it impossible to remain on the sidelines,” it said.
“We express our support to President Yeltsin and the Russian government, considering that stability, order, economical and political unity of the state, the protection of human rights of the citizens and safety of democracy in Russia are impossible under the conditions that had existed till now.”
The future that Russian Jews prefer is that favored by Yeltsin, who envisions a rapid transition to a Western-style democracy and economy.
The Vaad said the opposition to Yeltsin “has united all the reactionary forces of the country from fascists to Stalinists.
“Today, just as in August 1991, the country is divided into two camps. Above one of them — the flag of the new Russia. Above the other — the red banners of the past and the yellow-red-black flag” of the ultra-nationalist, and often anti-Semitic, Pamyat movement.
“We choose the first one,” the Vaad said.
By supporting Yeltsin, the Vaad has violated a law passed Wednesday by Parliament criminalizing support for the president. But with both the interior and defense ministries pledging allegiance to Yeltsin at midweek, enforcement of the rogue Parliament’s measures seemed unlikely.