Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin employed sticks as well as carrots in his meeting yesterday with the Duma leaders, warning that if the Duma fails to pass measures already introduced by Yevgeny Primakov’s government aimed at meeting International Monetary Fund conditionalities, the new government will ask for a vote of confidence (Russian agencies, May 18). According to the Russian constitution, if the government asks for a vote of confidence and the Duma refuses to pass it, the president has a week either to fire the cabinet or dissolve the Duma and call new elections. Indeed, some observers say that Yeltsin’s victory over the opposition on May 15, when its impeachment initiative failed to pass the Duma, has made the president even more truculent toward his enemies.
One newspaper published today quoted an anonymous high-level source as saying that Yeltsin sees the basic task of his life to “end communism in Russia once and for all.” According to the paper, the Kremlin is keeping open the possibility either of changing the electoral system so that candidates run only as individuals, not on party lists, or of banning the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) outright (Argumenty i Fakty, No. 20, May 1999). Today, however, Stepashin said that “no anti-constitutional measures” should be taken against the KPRF and promised that, if confirmed, he will not take “any emergency measures. “I’m not Pinochet. My name is Stepashin,” he was quoted as saying.
PRESS SCENARIOS PROBABLY PART OF A COVERT BEREZOVSKY-CHUBAIS BATTLE.