Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 230

At its session last week, the Russian Duma decided to postpone voting on the government’s revised draft of the 1997 federal budget until December 15, that is, after the national holiday set for December 12-13. Except for the pro-government "Russia is Our Home" and Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s Liberal Democrats, all factions of the Duma had threatened to vote against the draft. (Interfax, December 6) According to Nezavisimaya gazeta, the Duma postponed discussion of the budget as a gesture of support for Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, who allegedly told faction leaders that, if parliament rejected the budget, he would be replaced in his post by Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov.

The sting in the tail, according to the usually well-informed newspaper, was that the wily Chernomyrdin had another trick up his sleeve: had the Duma rejected the budget, "Russia is Our Home" would have moved a vote of no confidence in the government. This in turn would have allowed the president to dissolve parliament. (Nezavisimaya gazeta, December 7) Even the opposition newspaper, Pravda-5, admits that the opposition fears to reject the budget because deputies do not want to lose their parliamentary seats. "Deputies will not dare to reject it, because they care about their own interests and do not want to leave parliament and return to their former employers," the newspaper wrote. It predicted that, after putting up a show, parliament will adopt the government’s draft budget with only cosmetic changes. (Pravda-5, December 4)

Muslim Leader Elected to Russian Duma.