Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 95

The State Duma’s attempt to impeach President Boris Yeltsin has come to nothing. The results showed that while the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) and its main ally, the Agrarian Party, voted virtually unanimously for all five counts of impeachment, the expected defections from pro-Kremlin or centrist Duma factions, such as Russia is Our Home (ROH) and Russian Regions, did not materialize. Indeed, out of the sixty deputies belonging to ROH, only two voted for one or more of the impeachment counts, while 34-38 voted against various counts and 21-24 did not vote at all on one or more of the counts. Out of the forty-four deputies belonging to the Russian Regions faction, 19-28 voted for one or another of the impeachment counts, while 3-9 voted against, and 11-13 chose not to cast a ballot for one or more of the counts (Vremya MN, May 17).

The thousand or so pro-leftist opposition and anti-Yeltsin activists inside and outside the Duma expressed outrage at the results. Their wrath was particularly directed at Vladimir Zhirinovsky, whose Liberal Democratic Party of Russia chose en masse to boycott the vote. Leftist supporters shouted “Shame!” and “Traitor!” at the one-time opposition ultra-nationalist as he emerged from the vote. Zhirinovsky did not seem particularly perturbed at the hostility. In fact, flanked by his large bodyguards, he dared one of them, a young man, to come closer and shout his epithets. All in all, an uplifting performance. KPRF leader Gennady Zyuganov, meanwhile, denounced those Russian Regions deputies who either voted against impeachment or sat it out as “traitors” (Russian agencies, May 15). Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky, meanwhile, showed equanimity over the fact that one of his forty-six deputies had voted against the impeachment article accusing Yeltsin of criminal liability for the Chechen war, while seven others chose not to vote on the question. Yavlinsky, who had pledged that his faction would vote unanimously only for the Chechen article, said that the defectors were entitled to their opinion. He said also that the vote was a victory for democracy in that, for the first time, it set the precedent that Russian leaders would be called to account for crimes (NTV, May 16).