The Russian Duma yesterday continued its game of cat and mouse with the government by postponing debate for the second time on the revised 1997 federal budget. The Duma avoided an outright clash with the government by rejecting Communist firebrand Viktor Ilyukhin’s proposal to double the money supply. But, by refusing to vote on the government’s austerity budget and instead delegating a commission to report back on the proposals by June 18, the Duma has created the danger that Russia may be left without an approved budget when parliament begins its summer recess on June 24. The standoff between the government and the parliament continues, therefore.
Allies of President Boris Yeltsin had threatened that the president might dissolve the Duma if it refused to approve the budget, though Yeltsin would be on weak constitutional grounds if he did so. The government says deep cuts in public spending are unavoidable because of a 35 percent shortfall in tax revenue. The Communist-dominated Duma does not want to be seen as approving the cuts, which the government has already started to implement, since they will be highly unpopular. Parliamentarians have threatened to retaliate by holding a vote of no confidence in the government and organizing public protests in the fall. (RTR, Reuter, June 11; Financial Times, June 12)
Duma Bans Sale of Agricultural Land.