Russia’s State Duma this morning rejected President Boris Yeltsin’s nominee for prime minister, Sergei Kirienko, for the second time. Today’s vote — 115 for Kirienko and 271 against — represents a substantially greater defeat than the first vote a week ago. Before today’s vote, Kirienko appealed to the Duma for support, promising to eliminate arrears in pensions payments, protect troubled sectors such as agriculture and coal production, and make up financing shortfalls to the military. The opposition-dominated Duma was unimpressed by Kirienko’s promise that, under his leadership, Russia would remain on the reform path. Communist faction leader Gennady Zyuganov repeated his allegation that Yeltsin was violating the constitution by nominating Kirienko a second time, while other parliamentary leaders reiterated their concern that Kirienko lacks the necessary experience to run the country. (BBC, April 17)
Prior to the vote, President Yeltsin made his weekly radio address. He said that Russia was not in crisis and that, regardless of the outcome of today’s Duma vote, he would go ahead with his planned weekend visit to Japan. He also said that, if the Duma rejected Kirienko today, he would immediately renominate him for a third time. (BBC, April 17) The reality is that, if Yeltsin does renominate Kirienko and if the Duma rejects him for a third time, Yeltsin will be left with little choice but to dissolve parliament and call fresh elections. This will plunge the country into crisis and scuttle all hope of the long-looked-for revival of the country’s economy.
Berezovsky Denies Rumors of Rift with Yeltsin.