Remarks and an Exchange With Reporters on Russia
The President. Ladies and gentlemen, I have received a rather extended briefing on what we know about what is going on in Russia, and I want to make a couple of comments about it. First of all, it is clear that the violence was perpetrated by the Rutskoy-Khasbulatov forces, that there has been significant violence today in Moscow. It is also clear that President Yeltsin bent over backwards to avoid the use of force, to avoid excessive force from the beginning of this, and I still am convinced that the United States must support President Yeltsin and the process of bringing about free and fair elections. We cannot afford to be in the position of wavering at this moment or of backing off or giving any encouragement to people who clearly want to derail the election process and are not committed to reform in Russia. So we are following events moment by moment. As you know, we have access to television coverage there so you are also pretty current on it. But that is the most I know now, and that is our position.
Q. Do you think that Yeltsin can survive, Mr. President, and will you cut off aid if he is deposed?
The President. Well, I don't expect him to be deposed. I wouldn't overreact to this, now. I think the people clearly stand far more supportive of him than the Rutskoy-Khasbulatov and they seem—they don't have any organized military support that we're aware of. So we'll just have to wait for developments, but I have no reason to believe that he would be deposed.
Q. Mr. President, have you spoken to President Yeltsin?
The President. No. I'm sure he's got more important things to do right now than to talk to me, and I don't think the United States should be involved in the moment-to-moment management of this crisis, but I do want him to know of my continued support and the support of the United States.
Q. What can the U.S. Government do right now?
The President. Well first of all, we can get as much intelligence, as quickly as possible, about what's going on, and we can do our best to look after the safety of the Americans who are there and the security of the Embassy, which has received some attention from our folks, and so far the reports on that are good.
Q. Do you have any plans to cancel your trip or postpone your trip in any way?
The President. No.
NOTE: The President spoke at 12:09 p.m. on the South Lawn at the White House. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.
William J. Clinton, Remarks and an Exchange With Reporters on Russia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/218140