Yeltsin crushes hard-line foes Rebel leaders jailed; casualty reports mount CRISIS IN RUSSIA

THE BALTIMORE SUN

MOSCOW -- Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin crushed his enemies in the parliament yesterday with a massive show of force and the resistance to his rule dwindled to scattered skirmishes in the capital's streets and on its rooftops.

Though the leaders of the anti-Yeltsin rebellion sat, defeated in Moscow prisons, their capture came at a high price.

Numerous deaths and injuries were reported after two days of gunfire, tank assault and mob chaos. The huge White House, as the parliament building is known, was in ruins, its upper floors burning like a torch.

Mr. Yeltsin's government had been severely tried, and though the bloodshed and disorder undoubtedly inflicted its political damage on him, public sympathy was shifting his way yesterday.

Reports from the provinces and neighboring states also spoke of growing solidarity with the president. Leaders of the 88 constituent parts of the Russian Federation, who only recently were divided in their allegiances, joined in approving the attack on the White House.

For the moment, Russia appeared to be surviving the assault on its young democracy.

While city officials said 31 people had been killed and 219 injured in the last two days, other reports predicted much higher casualties.

The fierce battle for the Ostankino television tower alone killed 62 and wounded 400, Russian television reported. Ten policemen and soldiers died and more than 50 were wounded yesterday, the Moscow military command said.

Numerous bodies were piled up after a devastating tank and troop assault on the White House, which only waned yesterday evening after the leaders of the defiant parliament emerged in the custody of soldiers about 6 p.m. (11 a.m. EST).

Parliament Chairman Ruslan I. Khasbulatov, looking pale and small in a dark suit, and Vice President Alexander V. Rutskoi, wearing camouflage fatigues and trying to maintain his dignity, were driven off in buses to the notorious Lefortovo prison.

And the sniper fire that spread to neighborhoods near the White House yesterday afternoon intensified. Early today, sharp reports and answering submachine-gun rounds regularly punctuated the air.

"There will be no forgiveness for them or for those who gave them orders," Mr. Yeltsin said in a nationwide television address. "Because they have lifted up their hand against civilians, against Moscow, against Russia, against children, women and old people."

By last night, the president was moving to consolidate his victory.

He sent special police units to track down the snipers who fanned out across Moscow and were still firing sporadically early this morning.

Expanding on his state of emergency decree, he imposed an 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew. He banned several communist and right-wing parties and shut down the newspapers politically aligned with them -- perhaps hoping to avoid the same mistake he had made in 1991, when he failed to use his victory over the communist coup to dissolve parliament and set new elections.

He banned the venerable communist daily Pravda and suspended extremist political parties such as the National Salvation Front, Working Russia, the Russian Communist Party and the anti-Semitic Pamyat -- which he accused of stirring up unrest.

Mr. Yeltsin also was reported to be preparing an "appropriate decree" to deal with the Constitutional Court, a panel he created early in his presidency to safeguard citizens' rights. Under its chairman, Valery Zorkin, the court turned into a center of political opposition.

And he signaled plans to prosecute the leaders of the rebellious parliament. Russia's Vice Premier Vladimir Shumeiko asserted that Mr. Rutskoi, Mr. Khasbulatov and others probably would be brought to trial.

"I think legal proceedings will be started against each of them," he said in an interview with the Interfax news agency.

The two men, along with their erstwhile Cabinet of Viktor Barannikov, a former KGB chief, and two former generals, arrived at the KGB's Lefortovo prison at 8 p.m. yesterday. According to Interfax they were searched and underwent preliminary interrogation before being assigned cells.

With his bitterest foes in jail, Mr. Yeltsin appeared to have gained the upper hand.

An army loyal to the president was stopping the carnage. His opponents had begun it, leading their followers to bloodshed and defeat, and then emerging unscathed and unrepentant. This even after Mr. Rutskoi had spent days promising victory and a fight to his "last blood."

Yesterday, Mr. Rutskoi's own political party, the People's Party of Free Russia, denounced him.

"Those who pushed the people to bloody confrontation have trespassed the line separating politics from crime," said Vasily Lipitsky, a party member who signed the statement.

The events of yesterday marked a dramatic turn from the day before when Mr. Yeltsin had looked decidedly vulnerable.

His police force had been routed shamefully Sunday by pro-communist demonstrators, who were fighting Mr. Yeltsin's decision to dissolve the parliament Sept. 21. The streets had been given up to whomever had a gun.

Yesterday, lines of tanks rolled through the city, many foreign stores closed -- perhaps in fear of anti-Western mob violence -- and many Russians stayed home.

The bloody events had frightened them; police protection began to look more inviting.

By mid-morning, crowds gathered once more around the White House. But the middle-aged Communist supporters of the last days were gone. Young curiosity seekers strolled in the shadows of the firing tanks, drawn by excitement rather than political conviction. Cheers went up each time the tanks pounded the White House. The noise reverberated across the city.

Submachine-gun fire rattled in fierce battles carried out from nearby rooftops. A Russian journalist walking across from the White House, near the U.S. Embassy, watched an anti-Yeltsin sniper atop an apartment building fire a bullet that hit the ground just a few feet from him.

The battle went on all day, with T-72 tanks firing launching punishing cannonade. The army arrayed 10 heavy tanks, seven light tanks and 25 armored personnel carriers around the White House.

Windows blew out, a blizzard of papers blew through the sky and troops and building defenders exchanged gunfire.

Finally, most of those inside had had enough. They filed out, climbed into government buses and were driven away. Only a few diehard fighters remained in and around the White House yesterday evening, firing occasionally.

By afternoon, two relaxed soldiers were lounging next to a kiosk, sipping a soft drink. "Come and have a drink, girls," they called out cheerfully to passing women.

"Aren't you busy?" they were asked. "No," said one, "it's just another coup."

While Moscow seemed to be coming under control, however, there were eruptions elsewhere.

In St. Petersburg, about 1,000 anti-Yeltsin demonstrators marched on the television studios last night and demanded the right to broadcast their views. Riot police turned them away.

Up to 70 snipers were on roofs and in upper floors of buildings in the center of Moscow, Interfax reported, quoting security officials.

Supporters of the breakaway legislators reportedly had 20 army sniper rifles and up to 40 other rifles.

The government said the weapons were either stolen or bought on the black market.

One skirmish broke out at the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper, where snipers had pinned journalists down, preventing them from leaving work.

A pro-parliament group attempted to rush the police office in a Moscow railway station, but was repulsed.

And a midnight shoot-out was reported outside the Itar-Tass news agency building.

Sergei Filatov, Mr. Yeltsin's chief of staff, said the forces inside the White House had been armed with 2,000 submachine guns and a few grenade launchers.

Police said 5,000 men would patrol the streets, checking vehicles for weapons, to round the armaments up.

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