Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 164

Moscow is on tenterhooks, waiting for President Yeltsin to announce whether he will risk a showdown with the Duma by nominating Viktor Chernomyrdin for premier for a third and decisive time, or play it safe and nominate a compromise candidate. There is a general feeling that, if Yeltsin had been going to renominate Chernomyrdin, he would have done so by now. Two of the compromise candidates tipped for the post–Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov and Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov–have already said, however, that they do not want the job. Luzhkov, who said he would consider it only if he could remain mayor of Moscow, likely feels that taking on the premiership would involve making a lot of unpopular decisions that could ruin his chances for the presidency in 2000. (BBC, September 9) The Duma was quick yesterday to respond to signs that Yeltsin might be about to concede defeat and nominate another candidate. After consultation with Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, the head of the Duma’s commission on impeaching the president, Vadim Filimonov, announced that the commission would not present its preliminary report on its findings to the Duma this week.

Originally, the commission was racing to get its report on three of the five charges against Yeltsin into deputies’ hands by the end of this week. The reason for the hurry was that, if Chernomyrdin were nominated and rejected a third time, the Duma would be dissolved and the commission’s work frozen. But if 300 of the Duma’s 450 deputies could have been persuaded, on the basis of the commission’s preliminary investigation into the first three charges, to vote for the start of formal impeachment procedures, Yeltsin would have been debarred by the constitution from dissolving the Duma for two months. Time was therefore of the essence. Earlier reports had said that the commission would present its report not later than September 11. The fact that Yeltsin delayed and did not announce his decision yesterday suggested that he was considering a compromise candidate. The Duma picked up these signals and responded with a conciliatory gesture of its own. (NTV, September 8)