Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 11

President Yeltsin’s doctor, Sergei Mironov, says the president’s condition has stabilized but that complications could still set in and that Yeltsin must remain in the hospital until the end of this week. He said the president caught a chill a week ago after visiting the sauna. (Interfax, January 15)

Attempts by Yeltsin’s opponents to force the president to leave office suffered a setback yesterday. The Duma’s legal department concluded that parliament cannot oust the president on medical grounds until a law has been adopted laying down the appropriate procedures. Article 92 of the Russian Constitution, which requires the president to step down if ill health prevents him from fulfilling his duties, should be clarified by a federal law. Until then, the Duma will have to content itself with advising the president to step down, the lawyers said. (Itar-Tass, UPI, January 15) Duma speaker Gennady Seleznev said today that, in view of the lawyers’ advice, he would recommend to the Duma that it drop its efforts to force Yeltsin to resign. (Itar-Tass, January 16)

The Duma’s moves to oust Yeltsin may be frustrated on this occasion, but there is now general agreement that the constitution is dangerously vague on this point and that the gap should be plugged by adoption of an appropriate law. Consensus is also building that the constitution concentrates too much power in the president’s hands and that the balance should be tilted, if only slightly, in parliament’s favor.

Concern over Disenfranchisement of Thousands of Chechen Refugees.