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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yeltsin poised to jump in on Izvestia's side

President Boris Yeltsin is ready to defend the newspaper Izvestia against a threat from the Russian parliament to take it over, Russia's press minister said.

Denouncing parliament's move as illegal, Mikhail Poltoranin, the press and information minister and a deputy prime minister, said at a press conference Wednesday that Yeltsin was ready to step in to rescue the respected daily from a parliament vote to make it the newspaper of the Congress of People's Deputies.

"The president has some steps prepared and you will learn about them soon", he said.

His words came as a surprise to journalists, to whom Yeltsin's silence, after parliament had defied him by discussing the Izvestia issue, was curious. Many speculated early this week that Yeltsin had stepped back due to growing political pressure from the right, which is gauged through parliament. . .

"Not long ago, the president would have taken a much harder and decisive position and would have used all his

authority to convince parliament not to discuss the press and Izvestia at all", Yevgeny Kiselyov, anchor of the Sunday evening weekly news show "Itogi", said.

Instead, after urging parliament" speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov to drop Izvestia from the legislature's pre-vacation agenda, he stood by while pro-Communist deputies defiantly pushed ahead and determined that Izvestia had illegally taken property belonging to the Russian parliament.

In remarks this week, Poltoranin said that parliament's resolution had

no legal basis. Although he tried to play down the feud between parliament and the government on the issue, calling the resolution an "aberration", Poltoranin told the journalists that if the issue were not dropped, it would be taken to the Constitutional Court.

Several parliamentarians, including Sergei Shakhrai, who is Yeltsin's lawyer in the Communist Party trial, have said they will petition the Constitutional Court on the Izvestia issue. Poltoranin said that Andrei Makarov, another lawyer representing Yeltsin at the Communist Party trial, has also offered his services.

Poltoranin noted that the case cannot be taken up until Izvestia receives official notice.

Poltoranin spoke on Wednesday to an auditorium packed mostly with Russian reporters and editors worried that their publications may be next on parliament's chopping block.

"This parliament is not the heir but the successor of the U. S. S. R. Supreme Soviet", Len Karpinsky, editor in chief of Moskovskiye Novosti, said, comparing the two legislatures. "It fulfills the same old stereotype".