Names being bandied around include that of Yuri Luzhkov, the populist mayor of Moscow, and of old-time apparachik Yevgeni Primakov. "The Communists have never gone this far to the wall," says Meir. "They smell blood." Of course, President Yeltsin may simply refuse to do any more backroom dealing, wait for the third vote, disband the Duma, postpone elections and rule by decree. This isn't just idle speculation, according to Meir: "Opposition sources really fear martial law." After all, Czar Boris does have a habit of getting his way.
MOSCOW: Strike two for Viktor Chernomyrdin. The acting prime minister is tanking faster than the ruble after the Duma rejected his candidacy again Tuesday by a whopping 273-138 margin. And if the Communist opposition gets its way, Chernomyrdin won't have to face the humiliation of striking out -- he'll be outta there sooner rather than later. "It's now a question of whether we'll even get to a third round," says TIME Moscow correspondent Andrew Meir. "Those opposed to Chernomyrdin are seeking a compromise candidate."