President Boris Yeltsin returned to Moscow after his visit to Japan for a final week of wheeling and dealing in which he must try to persuade the Russian parliament to approve his nominee for prime minister. “The main battle is still ahead.” Yeltsin said over the weekend. (Itar-Tass, April 18) The Communist-dominated State Duma has twice rejected Sergei Kirienko, Yeltsin’s thirty-five year-old nominee. It must now approve him by Friday, April 24. Yeltsin has said that if it does not, he will dissolve parliament and call fresh elections. No one wants this outcome, but parliament has reacted with resentment and hostility to what it sees as Yeltsin’s efforts to browbeat it into accepting an unacceptable and inexperienced candidate. Communist party leader Gennady Zyuganov has described Kirienko as “a young Gaidar with the personality of Chubais”–a reference to Yeltsin’s first, reforming prime minister Yegor Gaidar and the architect of privatization, Anatoly Chubais. (Izvestia, April 14)
The Communist party has scheduled a meeting of its policymaking Central Committee for April 23 in which it will decide how to vote the following day. Zyuganov says he is sure the party will not change its mind and that he will instruct its members to vote against Kirienko again on Friday. (NTV, April 18) Kirienko himself said he was guardedly optimistic that the Duma would approve him. So too was the Duma’s Communist speaker, Gennady Seleznev. He told Russian TV on April 19 that he will attend the Central Committee plenum and advise it to change its position: “I shall explain what price will be paid for dissolving the State Duma. I think Russia will not forgive us for that.” Seleznev said it was unrealistic for the Communist party to demand that Yeltsin would ever appoint one of its members prime minister. He added that, if the Duma were dissolved, Yeltsin could appoint Kirienko and rule by decree pending an election. (RTR, April 18)
Kirienko, who continues to insist that he will not change his policies to seek confirmation, indicated over the weekend that, if he is approved, he will appoint some opposition members to his cabinet. He said Yeltsin had promised him one week in which to form a new government. (NTV, April 18)
POLICEMEN, GUNMEN KILLED IN SHOOT-OUT IN DAGESTAN.