MOSCOW — Denouncing Moscow's May Day violence as "frightening," President Boris N. Yeltsin on Monday vowed to take "urgent measures" that will ultimately strip his foes of their power bases in Russia's government.
Yeltsin, in his first appearance in public since Communist and nationalist protesters battled with police in the streets here Saturday, said it is time to capitalize on the mandate he won in a nationwide referendum last month.
"I understand that after the referendum we must take urgent measures," Yeltsin told residents and vacationers in the town of Zelenograd northwest of Moscow, a longtime bastion of pro-Yeltsin sentiment. "Such a packet (of documents) is prepared."
He gave no specifics but said the measures will be "adopted"--presumably in the form of presidential decrees--sometime after Wednesday, when the Russian commission on elections is expected to announce the official results of the April 25 referendum. A majority of voters approved both Yeltsin's leadership and reform policies.
As he spoke, the 62-year-old president was interrupted by supporters' approving shouts but managed to add that for him, "the first thing is the adoption of the new constitution as soon as possible."
His pleasure evident, Yeltsin reminded listeners that the proposed constitution he unveiled on the eve of the April vote would do away with both the conservative-dominated Congress of People's Deputies and the vice presidential office of ally-turned-opponent Alexander V. Rutskoi. The Congress, at present the supreme state institution in the country but badly discredited by the April vote, is sure to oppose Yeltsin's plan.
Officials in Yeltsin's entourage have flatly accused the Parliament's leadership of being involved in the planning of Saturday's clashes, the worst politically motivated violence in the Russian heartland since the failed Communist coup in 1991.
Yeltsin said a special unit in the state prosecutor general's office has been formed to investigate the melee in Moscow's Gagarin Square, in which police were set on during an anti-Yeltsin march by toughs wielding pipes and bottles.
According to Russia's Itar-Tass news agency, the president said it was up to the courts to decide the fate of those responsible, indicating that he will use no strong-arm tactics himself.
Deputy Prosecutor General Yevgeny K. Lisov, named to head the special investigation unit, said the identity of several dozen instigators of Saturday's events is already known. According to officials in the prosecutor's office, they could get from two to 15 years in prison.
Some of Yeltsin's opponents charged Monday that he engineered the May Day bloodshed like the Nazis masterminded the burning of the Reichstag in prewar Germany as an excuse to impose authoritarian rule.