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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yeltsin Will Challenge Congress in Legal Venue

President Boris Yeltsin has told Russia's Consitutional Court that he plans to challenge the legality of decisions made by last weekend's emergency session of the Congress of People's Deputies, a court spokesman said Wednesday.


In a letter to the court dated March 29, Yeltsin said he would challenge decisions of the conservative Congress, where legislators failed in an attempt to impeach the president Sunday.


But the president was silent Wednesday on the key question of whether he will accept a referendum drawn up by the Congress or hold his own parallel poll on April 25.


Yeltsin, who is also preparing for an April 3-4 summit meeting with President Bill Clinton in Vancouver, Canada, will leave Moscow on Friday and return immediately when the summit concludes Sunday, a source close to the president said.


A spokesman said Yeltsin would make a "technical stopover somewhere on the Siberian pacific coast", but that there were no official meetings planned in the region. The spokesman said that a meeting originally scheduled for Wednesday with regional leaders had been postponed.


Yeltsin's letter to the court did not elaborate on which decisions of the Congress he intends to challenge, but one is likely to question new rules set for the president's April 25 referendum on who should rule the country.


At an emergency session that ended Monday, the Congress slapped a tough set of rules on the referendum that will make it nearly impossible for Yeltsin to win.


Under the new rules, Yeltsin would need the support of half of Russia's 106 million registered voters to win a vote of confidence, regardless of how many turned out to vote. Most observers believe that Yeltsin would have trouble getting that many votes. Another rule adopted by Congress forbids the president from adding to the four questions it adopted - on confidence in the president, on confidence in his social and economic policies, on early elections for the president and on early elections for the legislature.


Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai, Yeltsin's top legal adviser, said Tuesday that the Congres's referendum proposal left the president with no choice but to go ahead with his own poll.


Yeltsin wants a vote of confidence to affirm his supremacy over the hostile Congress, which came within 72 votes of impeaching him on Sunday. He has promised to resign if he loses.


The president also wants to use the poll to approve a new constitution that dearly defines the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches and replaces the Congress with a two-chamber parliament.


But some legislators question whether holding two rival polls would solve the power struggle.


"The Congress will not recognize the results of Yeltsin's poll", said moderate legislator Oleg Rumyantsev. "Holding parallel polls will lead to parallel rejections by both sides of the results. and then each side will make its own decisions".