Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 93

The Kremlin has to take into account that the “democratic opposition”–Yabloko–is committed to backing President Boris Yeltsin’s impeachment on at least one count. Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky repeated today that his movement’s forty-six Duma deputies would vote unanimously in favor of the Chechen war accusation, and that some members would also vote in favor of the impeachment article accusing Yeltsin of criminal liability for the armed suppression of the armed parliamentary mutiny in October 1993 (Russian agencies, May 13). According to one rumor circulating earlier today, Yabloko would reverse its decision to back impeachment in exchange for Yavlinsky’s appointment to the new cabinet as deputy prime minister in charge of the economy, with other Yabloko members being appointed to a host of other ministerial posts (Russian agencies, May 13). Yavlinsky’s subsequent statement would seem to quash that rumor.

Given that this suggests that the voting on impeachment will in any case be a close call, it is no surprise that the Kremlin is brandishing a few sticks. Viktor Chernomyrdin, former prime minister and now Yeltsin’s envoy for the Kosovo crisis, said yesterday at a meeting of his political movement Russian is Our Home that the Duma should be dissolved, after which the current scheme for electing parliament members should be changed. Now candidates are put forward both on party lists, any of which must receive 5 percent of the vote to enter parliament, and for single mandate districts. Chernomyrdin proposes getting rid of the party lists. This would likely harm the communists, among others.

Chernomyrdin did not specify on what grounds the Duma should be dissolved, saying simply that it should dissolve itself. He conceded that Duma self-dissolution is not envisioned in the constitution, which states that the Duma can be dissolved only if it rejects a prime ministerial candidate three times or votes no-confidence in the cabinet.

Meanwhile, the Federal Security Service (FSB) has been distributing an “analytical” document to legislators, stating that the work of the Duma’s special impeachment commission, which drew up the five articles of impeachment against Yeltsin, contains no “signs” of criminal activity by Yeltsin, and that the special commission itself is not legally authorized to determine whether criminal acts have been carried out. The FSB circulated a similar document about impeachment earlier this year. Both documents might be viewed as veiled threats.