The Russian parliament yesterday postponed for one week its threatened vote of no-confidence in the government. The decision came after Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin declared that he would resign if the vote were adopted, and President Boris Yeltsin made a last-minute appeal for the vote to be abandoned. Yeltsin made two dramatic telephone calls to Duma speaker Gennady Seleznev, saying he "did not want confrontation or new elections." Yeltsin also said that he and his government are ready to cooperate with parliament by reviving the "Group of Four" (an ad hoc forum bringing together the president, the prime minister, and the speakers of the two houses of parliament) and by setting up a roundtable at which the government and the parliament could jointly thrash out contentious issues.
In a face-saving exercise, the Duma agreed to postpone the vote for one week. It did so not only in response to Yeltsin’s gesture of conciliation but also because the Communist and nationalist factions backing the motion were not at all sure they could muster the 226 votes required to get the no-confidence vote passed. This was because the Yabloko faction, which has all along called for a vote of no-confidence in the government, declared that it would vote only in favor of its own motion, not that put forward by the Communist and nationalist factions. Although the Communist faction later accused Yabloko of "sabotaging" the no-confidence vote, Yabloko’s position was logical. It opposed the postponement of the vote and said it was ready immediately to support its own no-confidence motion. Although all the factions threatening yesterday to vote against the government — Yabloko, Communist, nationalist, and agrarian — describe themselves as being in opposition to the government, Yabloko has little else in common with the other three. In particular, Yabloko’s objections to the government’s economic policies are grounded on quite different premises than are those of the Communist and nationalist factions. (Russian and western agencies, October 15)
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