Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 90

The assumption in most quarters now is that Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov’s ouster is a done deal. Many say that it could happen this week–shortly before or, more likely, shortly after the State Duma vote on impeachment, which is set to take place on May 13. Were the Duma to vote in favor of impeachment, it would give Yeltsin an obvious pretext to fire the Primakov government, given that he considers the leftist opposition and Primakov as being allied. Most analysts say that only one article of impeachment–concerning the war in Chechnya–is likely to come close to getting the necessary 300 votes necessary to pass. Indeed, despite ongoing rumors that Yeltsin is seriously considering the possibility of appointing Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky to a key cabinet post, Yavlinsky nonetheless today reiterated that the Yabloko faction in the Duma will vote in favor of the impeachment article concerning Chechnya (Russian agencies, May 10). The impeachment initiative, however, is still likely to fall a few votes short of 300, unless some members of pro-Kremlin factions such as Russia is Our Home or Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s Liberal Democratic Party of Russia decide to back impeachment. This is unlikely.

But even if the Duma fails to pass impeachment, this by no means guarantees that Primakov is off the hook. Yeltsin can simply find another pretext to fire him.

Russian Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov used an opposition-organized Victory Day rally to urge his supporters “to unite their efforts and make Yeltsin and his team resign.” Zyuganov claimed that 259 Duma deputies now supported the impeachment effort and urged the gathered demonstrators to tell their representatives in the Duma to vote for impeachment.

Other, more radical communist leaders were more shrill in their speeches yesterday. Viktor Ilyukhin, who heads the Duma’s security committee and heads the opposition Movement for Support of the Armed Forces, said that “all the scum must be thrown out of the Kremlin,” while State Duma deputy Albert Makashov said that “not a single scoundrel calling himself a democrat must be allowed to appear either in the parliament or in a village council” (Russian agencies, May 9).

The turnout for the opposition march and rally was respectable–according to some media, somewhere around 20,000 people showed up. The turnout, however, did not come anywhere near the 450,000 total which the rally’s organizers claimed.