Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 29

Yevgeny Primakov claimed a victory yesterday when State Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznev assured the prime minister that the lower house of parliament would back a Kremlin-cabinet plan for a “nonaggression pact” between the branches of power in the run-up to this year’s legislative elections. Primakov met for two hours yesterday with leaders of the Duma’s various factions to discuss the peace plan, saying afterward simply that the meeting had been “useful,” but looking victorious. Seleznev said the initiative had received backing from all Duma factions (Russian agencies, February 10).

Seleznev said that each Duma faction would offer amendments to the initiative, after which a working group would draw up a reconciled document. That document would then be put to a vote in the Duma. Primakov’s original plan, floated last month, required the president to forego his constitutional powers to dissolve the Duma, and the Duma to cease its ongoing impeachment process against President Boris Yeltsin. On February 5, the Kremlin gave preliminary approval to a version of the plan which would simply require both the Duma and the president to consult one another before taking such steps (see the Monitor, February 10). The Duma will probably seek a guarantee from Yeltsin that he will not dismiss the cabinet without first consulting the Duma and that the Kremlin and the Duma will make joint decisions on filling “key” cabinet posts between (Segodnya, February 11).

Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov–who, prior to the meeting with Primakov, denounced the initiative as an attempt to stabilize “the current totally rotten regime”–changed his tune somewhat after the meeting, saying that his faction would await Primakov’s responses to a number of Communist questions and demands. Zyuganov had handed these to Primakov in the form of a “counterproposal.” The communists have demanded changes in the constitution to weaken the executive branch and strengthen the legislative, and continue to insist that Anatoly Chubais–who heads United Energy Systems, the state electricity monopoly–be fired from his post.

While Seleznev said that all Duma factions would back the peace plan, Yabloko faction vice chairman Sergei Ivanenko said that his movement would not vote for either the current version or any subsequent one the Duma might approve. Ivanenko said that “one must look for accord not by approving… declarations, but… by going to the voters, who are now living [in poor conditions]” (Segodnya, February 11). Ivanenko said that the initiative was “useless” rather than “harmful.” Meanwhile, Konstantin Borovoy, a Duma deputy who heads the Party of Economic Freedom, said that ten deputies had signed on to a demand that a vote of no confidence in the government be put on the Duma’s agenda (Moscow Times, February 11).