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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yeltsin tackles constitution

President Boris Yeltsin has proposed enacting a new Russian Constitution that would abolish the Congress of People's Deputies and broadly expand his own powers.

Appearing at a meeting of the Constitutional Commission on Wednesday, Yeltsin also suggested that he be granted the constitutional right to call referenda during his present term. This would allow him to appeal directly to the Russian population, bypassing a legislature that has often proved recalcitrant on his plans for reform.

Interfax reported Thursday that the commission would meet Sept. 29 to finalize the draft of the constitution,

which is certain to meet with opposition from the legislators it would disenfranchise.

Yeltsin has been fighting a running battle with the Supreme Soviet, and with the larger Congress of People's Deputies from which the working parliament is drawn, in his attempts to move the centralized Russian economy toward a free-market system. The legislators in both bodies were elected before the demise of the Soviet Union in December.

But a compromise with the legislators that would allow swift enactment of the new constitution might be possible, according to a top legislator. Oleg Rumyantsev, secretary of the constitutional commission, said that Yeltsin was "beginning to accept" a plan under which the Supreme Soviet would be enlarged to 500 seats and reorganized to receive many of the powers of the Congress of People's Deputies, including approval of key cabinet ministers, Interfax said.

At the meeting on Wednesday, Yeltsin called for a strengthening of the executive branch and proposed that the 1, 046-member Congress of People's Deputies be written out of the draft constitution.

He also proposed raising the number of votes necessary for parliament to override a presidential veto from 50 percent to two-thirds, Interfax said.