All sides expressed satisfaction at the close of yesterday’s roundtable discussion, called by President Boris Yeltsin in an effort to persuade parliamentary faction leaders and trade unionists to accept his choice of Sergei Kirienko as Russia’s next prime minister. In reality, the sides appeared as far apart as before, with Yeltsin continuing to support Kirienko’s candidacy and parliamentary leaders continuing to express doubts about his youth and inexperience. Some parliamentarians did seem to have been more open in laying their cards on the table. While Grigory Yavlinsky’s Yabloko continued to insist that it will reject Kirienko when the State Duma votes on April 10, other parliamentary leaders hinted that they would support Kirienko if places were found for their nominees in the new government. Leaders of Russia is Our Home were quite candid about their ministerial hopes, as was Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s Liberal Democratic Party. Even the Communists refrained from rejecting Kirienko outright, according to one eyewitness, Yaroslavl Oblast Governor Anatoly Lisitsyn, who was interviewed last night on NTV. "They all understand that Kirienko is an intelligent, pragmatic and economically unbiased manager," Lisitsyn said. And while Kirienko’s candidacy may well be rejected when it is first put to the vote on April 10, Lisitsyn said the Duma "might approve Kirienko in the second vote because there is no good reason not to trust him." (NTV, April 7)
Yeltsin ruled out a coalition government yesterday, but said he was ready to accept "businesslike" politicians from any party. He revealed that, before deciding on Kirienko, he had considered four other possible candidates for the post of premier. These were Federation Council Speaker and Orel Oblast Governor Yegor Stroev, former Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Bulgak, Saratov Oblast Governor Dmitri Ayatskov and Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov. (NTV, April 7)
The president had other carrots up his sleeve. Calling for "an end to confrontation," he offered to refrain from using his presidential veto over future parliamentary legislation if the Duma voted for Kirienko. In view of the huge number of bills that Yeltsin has vetoed in the past few years, and parliament’s fondness for declarative and sometimes openly demagogic measures, such as its July 1993 assertion of Russian sovereignty over the Crimean port of Sevastopol, Yeltsin would be offering a major hostage to fortune were he to forswear his right of veto. Like the president’s 1996 election promises, this one may have been made to be broken.
In true bureaucratic form, yesterday’s meeting saw the creation of yet another commission. This one is charged with coming up with proposals on economic policy. Yegor Stroev told journalists that the commission will probably be chaired by Yeltsin and include subcommissions headed by members of both houses of parliament and leading economists from various think tanks, "instead of just one or two as at present." (Russian agencies, April 7) On the face of it, the new commission will duplicate work already being done by both government and parliament. It seems doomed to irrelevance.
Kirienko to Present His Program to Parliament.