President Boris Yeltsin could have guaranteed that there would not be a constitutional showdown, a least immediately, by allowing Sergei Stepashin to serve as acting prime minister for two months without putting his candidacy before the Duma, as Russia’s law on government permits. He did not do this, however, and a vote is now scheduled for May 19.
This could mean that Yeltsin deliberately sought a confrontation. It could also mean, however, that he and his advisers simply decided that the opposition would back down from a confrontation. Many Duma deputies, even opposition radicals, have no guarantee that they would be reelected were the Duma disbursed and new elections called, and they may, at the eleventh hour, decide that discretion is the better part of valor and actually vote to approve Stepashin. Indeed, communist maverick deputy Viktor Semago said yesterday: “We will probably take about ten minutes in the coming days and just pass his candidacy. It is pretty obvious by now that there is not much else we can do” (Moscow Times, May 13). This could account for Yeltsin’s comment today, quoted by his spokesman Dmitri Yakushkin, that he would like to have “constructive mutual interaction with the State Duma,” and that he hoped that the Duma would approve Stepashin’s candidacy (Russian agencies, May 13).
YABLOKO REMAINS COMMITTED TO ONE COUNT OF IMPEACHMENT.