Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 91

After yesterday’s meeting of Yabloko’s leadership–called to discuss how it will approach this week’s expected vote on President Boris Yeltsin’s impeachment–Grigory Yavlinsky confirmed that Yabloko will support the third of five impeachment articles, involving Yeltsin’s 1994 decision to send troops to Chechnya (see the Monitor, May 10). Yavlinsky stressed that Yabloko refused to consider the other four charges put forward by the leftist opposition, which Yabloko regards as “political.” These charges would hold Yeltsin criminally responsible for the break-up of the Soviet Union, for using force against the Soviet-era parliament in 1993, for the collapse of the armed forces and for policies which the opposition charges have led to the “genocide” of the Russian people through poverty and other deprivations.

According to one recent estimate, 211 of the Duma’s 442 deputies will support all five articles of impeachment. Of these 211, 129 are communists, 46 are leftists from the People’s Power faction, and 36 are members of the Agrarian Party. On the third article, concerning Chechnya, those 211 votes are likely to be supplemented by Yabloko’s 46, upwards of 25 of the 43 from the centrist “Russian Regions” faction, and 15 of the Duma’s 31 independents. This would mean that the impeachment article regarding Chechnya could get 297 votes (Izvestia, May 8). At least 301 votes are needed for any one of the impeachment articles to pass.

Some officials, including Oleg Sysuev, first deputy Kremlin administration chief, predicted last week that the Duma might reconsider taking up impeachment this week. Today, however, at the end of a closed plenum of the Communist Party’s central committee devoted to the impeachment issue, Communist party leader Gennady Zyuganov confirmed that the committee will begin the impeachment procedure on May 13. He claimed that “impeachment” had in essence already taken place, given that polls show Yeltsin’s rating at only 2 percent. Zyuganov also confirmed that the leaders of the Duma’s factions would meet with Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov today (Russian agencies, May 11).

According to one media outlet, Primakov will try today to convince the deputies to postpone or cancel the vote on impeachment and take up the draft legislation which the cabinet has submitted to the legislature designed to meet the IMF conditions (Ekho Moskvy radio, May 11). Many observers believe Yeltsin’s likely response to a vote in favor of impeachment would be to fire the Primakov cabinet in its entirety.