MOSCOW—Exhausted after years of failed attempts to establish order out of political and economic chaos, Russian officials finally gave up Wednesday, ceding power to a flock of geese that happened to be flying over the Kremlin.
"To hell with this," Russian President Boris Yeltsin said. "I have no idea how to establish a free-market democracy. From now on, the geese will lead us."
In a historic ceremony, Yeltsin laid a gavel symbolizing control of the Russian Duma at the feet of the geese, who signified their acceptance by preening and glancing about.
Outgoing Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko said he is unsure which goose is the leader of the flock and, by extension, Russia. "When we saw them flying, we assumed the leader was the goose at the head of their V-formation. But when they landed, we lost track of which one it was."
The geese themselves have not been forthcoming in identifying a leader. "They mostly flap their wings and peck at little bits of bread," Kiriyenko said.
The geese's first official action as leaders of Russia was to walk around Red Square, avoiding pedestrians and periodically honking at one another.
"We are not sure the meaning of this act," Kiriyenko said, "But they did it with a great air of unity and purpose."
Next on the geese's agenda is a Geneva arms summit which President Clinton and the leaders of five other industrialized nations are scheduled to attend. "I very much hope the geese can secure a lasting peace in the global community," Yeltsin said.