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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Parliament Provides Funds for April Vote

Russia's parliament allotted over 20 billion rubles ($29 million) Tuesday to finance an April 25 national referendum on who should rule the country, but it remained unclear whether President Boris Yeltsin would endorse the vote or conduct a separate poll.

Meeting for the first time since a four-day session of the Congress of People's Deputies first attempted to impeach Yeltsin and then set tough conditions for his referendum, parliament voted 20. 5 billion rubles to finance the poll.

According to Sergei Obuchov, deputy director of the parliament press center, the money is to be used for a public awareness campaign, election commissions, ballot printing costs and renting of the voting stations.

Yeltsin met with more than 50 supporters from the parliament inside the Kremlin on Tuesday to discuss how to react to the legislature's proposed referendum.

Some Yeltsin aides have said he would go forward with plans for a parallel vote, ignoring the parliament's referendum because the rules are loaded against him.

But according to one legislator who took part in the meeting, not everybody is advising the president to take such a hard line.

"Many of those attending suggested that Yeltsin should not try to launch his own poll", legislator Nikolai Arzhanikov said, according to Reuters. He also said that the president had listened more than he spoke.

A statement from Yeltsin's press office said that Yeltsin also told the deputies in the meeting that the Congress had "failed to achieve its ultimate objective of impeaching the president and driving a wedge between the government and president".

At Monday's session of the Congress, the 1, 033 deputies formulated four questions for the April vote:

o Do you have confidence in the president of the Russian Federation, Boris Yeltsin?

o Do you approve of the socioeconomic policy implemented by the Russian Federation president and his government since 1992?

o Do you think early election of the Russian Federation president is necessary?

o Do you think early elections of the Russian Federation people's deputies are necessary?

They also set new rules meaning that to win, Yeltsin would need a "yes" vote from 50 percent of all eligible voters, as opposed to half of all votes cast. This means 53 million of Russia's 106 million voters must vote in favor of him.

Yeltsin's aides have said the president will challenge the Congres's conditions for the poll and that he might hold a parallel, non-binding, poll with his own questions on the ballot.

"The Congress has done everything to spoil the referendum for the president", Kostikov had said Monday. "I do not rule out that there will be a parallel poll, but it's up to the president to decide".

The president's press office Tuesday could not confirm that Yeltsin has taken a final decision.

But the statement on his meeting in the Kremlin on Tuesday said he planned to ask the Constitutional Court to review the Congres's law on the referendum and also a law on the press which sets up "monitoring committees" to oversee state television and radio.

Some hardline deputies had acknowledged Monday that the referendum rules had been set in an attempt to use the referendum to remove Yeltsin from the Kremlin, after a vote to impeach him failed by 72 votes Sunday night. Yeltsin has promised to resign from office if he loses the vote.

The impeachment vote and the emergency session of the Congress were triggered March 20, when Yeltsin announced that he was imposing "special rule" in the run-up to an April 25 vote of confidence in the president to resolve Russia's long-running power struggle. In a bid for popularity inside the Congress and in Russia as a whole, Yeltsin had also announced a series of economic measures to soften the effects of his reform program.

Among those was a decree doubling the monthly minimum wage to 4, 275 rubles from 2, 250 and raising stipends for students and the disabled. Parliament accepted both of these Tuesday.