Yeltsin called for a broad new coalition of political forces to support his reforms. He had said on Sunday that he would even join a pro-reform movement or party, reversing his previous stand that the president should remain above party politics.
Defending his Cabinet's economic record over the last 11 months of reforms, Yeltsin acknowledged some mistakes but said that, in general, "the government opened a boil that had been ready for a long time."
"The Russian economy can now be seen for what it is," he said, "and the picture is ugly, and many people have been frightened."
Yeltsin promised greater flexibility on tax rates and pledged that the government will somehow compensate the people for savings accounts that have lost almost all their value in the inflation that swept the country this year.
But aside from those offerings and his proposal on an altered division of powers, his speech contained no new initiatives. Andrei Golovin, a deputy, said Yeltsin's report sounded like "a typical speech by a regional Communist Party boss to a plenum of the party Central Committee."
Khasbulatov, the Parliament Speaker, won far more frequent applause with his criticism of government reforms. He also reproached Yeltsin for "primitive political propaganda" in his claims that there are enemies of the reforms out there trying to sabotage him. "The number of enemies of reforms among us is infinitesimal," he said.
Yeltsin's political enemies did seem to have quieted. Outside the Kremlin, only about 200 demonstrators waving red flags near St. Basil's Cathedral chanted, "Come on! Faster! Kick Boris out!" And in the halls of the Grand Kremlin Palace where the Congress meets, observers said that deputies seemed far less antagonistic toward Yeltsin than at the last six congresses.
"Deputies know now," said Vladimir Lysenko of the pro-Yeltsin Republican Party, "that if they remove the Cabinet, and Yeltsin is stuck in a dead end, everything will have blown apart."