Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 94

Various publications and analysts have noted the increasing likelihood that the Duma will approve Yeltsin’s nomination of Sergei Stepashin as prime minister to avoid its disbursal and new elections. (If the Duma rejects Yeltsin’s candidate three times, he must dissolve the Duma and call new elections.) Deputies would thereby keep their seats–and their treasured perks–and be able to keep fighting for impeachment. In any case, the leftist opposition may stand to gain no matter what happens. According to one analysis, if the Duma passes impeachment, it will give the opposition more legitimacy and thus more leverage to exert political pressure on the Supreme and Constitutional courts and the Federation Council, which must also vote on impeachment. Should the impeachment drive fail, the opposition will, in the next Duma elections, be able to portray those factions and deputies who voted against it as Yeltsin apologists (Nezavisimaya gazeta, May 14).

On the other hand, the Kremlin is hinting that Yeltsin could dissolve the Duma even if it approves Stepashin as prime minister. One newspaper today reported that Kremlin lawyers are busy studying the constitution “in order that, if the president decides in any case to dissolve the Duma, it will be done as constitutionally as possible” (Izvestia, May 14). While the constitution states that the president may not dissolve the Duma once it has voted for impeachment, Justice Minister Pavel Krasheninnikov said today that dissolving the Duma would be possible even after the impeachment process had begun. Krasheninnikov stated that the constitutional provision on impeachment “needs to be examined in the aggregate of legal norms,” and that the Duma’s impeachment accusations are legally “absolutely unsound” and strictly “political” (Russian agencies, May 14).