Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the Liberal Democratic faction in the State Duma, announced yesterday that his faction will boycott the Duma’s proceedings from now until the end of the year. Zhirinovsky said his faction is protesting against alleged vote-rigging, which, he said, had caused the defeat of his Liberal Democratic Party in recent regional legislative elections. He also complained that the Liberal Democrats are not given enough attention in the new "Parliamentary Hour" broadcasts on Russian TV.
Zhirinovsky’s threatened boycott could be a serious matter since, without the Liberal Democrats’ 50 votes, it might be impossible to muster the necessary votes to get the revised 1998 federal budget approved by parliament in the second reading. (The Yabloko faction has already announced that the 16 members of its faction will vote against the present draft.) (ORT, December 17) Zhirinovsky’s threat comes on top of yesterday’s decision by the Duma to postpone debate on the draft 1998 federal budget until December 24. The postponement will give the lower house time to study new government proposals that would increase debt servicing provisions by 10 billion redenominated rubles ($1.7 billion) to reflect the higher interest rates introduced during the recent turmoil on global financial markets.
Lebed/Yavlinsky Electoral Bloc Emerges in Novosibirsk.