The lower house of the Russian parliament, the State Duma, is to vote tomorrow for the second time on President Yeltsin’s nomination of Sergei Kirienko as prime minister. Yesterday, the Duma changed its rules to allow tomorrow’s vote to be an open one. Last week’s vote, in which the Duma rejected Kirienko for the first time, was secret. Open balloting will enable faction leaders to see how their members are voting. The leaders of the left opposition factions — Gennady Zyuganov of the Russian Communist party, Nikolai Ryzhkov of Power to the People! and Nikolai Kharitonov of the Agrarians — have all reiterated their determination to reject Kirienko. They want to ensure that rank and file faction members toe the party line. (Ekho Moskvy radio, April 14)
Communist faction leaders expressed displeasure yesterday at the apparent defection of Communist Speaker of the Duma Gennady Seleznev. Seleznev announced after a meeting with President Yeltsin on April 14 that he would vote for Kirienko the second time around. Seleznev defended his decision, saying he had not had a change of heart and remained unhappy with Kirienko’s candidacy, but considered it necessary to approve him since Yeltsin would otherwise dissolve parliament. Seleznev said he ran into "a brick wall" when he tried to persuade Yeltsin to submit another candidacy. (Radio Russia, April 14)
The Kremlin responded to the Duma’s move toward open voting with a fresh threat of its own. Yeltsin’s aide Sergei Shakhrai warned yesterday that, if the Duma rejects Yeltsin’s nominee three times, the president will not only exercise his constitutional right to dissolve parliament but will ensure that fresh elections are held under new rules. In the future, Shakhrai said, party lists should be abolished. All deputies, he said, should be elected in individual constituencies. This is a serious threat to the opposition. Its likely result would be a sharp fall in the numbers of candidates elected from the Communist party. Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s Liberal Democratic party would likely be eliminated entirely.
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