But for years Washington has been engaged in a delicate courtship with reform-minded elected officials in Iran.
He recently expanded his authority at the expense of Anatoly B. Chubais and Boris Nemtsov, the most reform-minded senior officials in the Yeltsin Government.
The problems of reform-minded local officials trying to break out of old ways come through most clearly in the Moscow working-class district of Brateyevo.
Political analysts said President Hu has sought to embrace Hu Yaobang's legacy as the president strives to win over reform-minded officials alienated by his crackdowns on dissent.
After the Boxer Rebellion and the invasion of Allied armies, external and internal pressures led Cixi to effect institutional changes of just the sort she had resisted and appoint reform-minded officials.
Mr. Hu and Mr. Wen have long been viewed favorably by party elders and reform-minded officials who want to see the party embrace at least modest political openness, and they developed reputations as dedicated, clean officials.
The emotional tone of the debate has grown so heated that a group of reform-minded former officials - Yegor Gaidar, Boris Fyodorov and Boris Nemtsov - set off on a peace mission to Belgrade.
The Yukos affair has highlighted a central political struggle in Russia between reform-minded officials favoring a market economy and others, often with a background in the security services, who are determined to retain a strong dose of state control.
The two men's influence over economic policy would nevertheless remain vast, particularly if reform-minded officials take over the ministries they surrender.
Last spring, Mr. Brucan, a former Ambassador to the United States, and five older members of the Communist Party had made a more public attempt to rally reform-minded officials in the Ceausescu leadership.