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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Khasbulatov Inches Toward Compromise

Parliament speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov, in a sign that he may be heeding growing dissent within the legislature's ranks, has urged a compromise over Russia's two draft constitutions to end the country's political crisis.


A day after deputy speaker Nikolai Ryabov urged the legislature to compromise with President Boris Yeltsin on constitutional reform, Khasbulatov told foreign journalists that he hoped both sides could "combine the best elements of both constitutions" and adopt a new charter in the autumn.


Yeltsin also struck a note of compromise on Monday when he told a meeting of supporters in the Kremlin that parliament's draft could contribute its better points to a new Russian constitution. But the president added that his opponents were weakening: "We needn't be too afraid of them".


In Washington, meanwhile, First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Shumeiko told reporters that Yeltsin would hold another referendum if parliament refused to ratify his own version of the constitution.


Khasbulatov, Yeltsin's chief political rival, stopped short of proposing a full compromise, repeating that the president's draft charter - which strengthens the powers of the presidency - was unacceptable in its current form.


"It is by its nature unacceptable, because it was written to serve a concrete individual", Khasbulatov said. "It is like a disposable needle, not to mention its tsarist aspirations. It is just not a serious draft".


He also denounced Yeltsin's call for a Constitutional Assembly to debate the charter, a plan which Ryabov endorsed.


Parliament has not recognized the plan, fearing that the Constitutional Assembly is being created to replace the Congress of People's Deputies, Russia's highest legislature.


"I think it is very dangerous to be drawn into any kind of unconstitutional structure to approve a constitution", Khasbulatov said. "It is better to stick to the law".


Pressed to say what he would do if the Constitutional Assembly were convened, he said that the parliament would respond "in a constitutional way".


Ryabov on Friday surprised Khasbulatov and other parliamentary leaders by urging legislators to approve the idea of a Constitutional Assembly and to agree to examine his draft constitution along with their own.


Khasbulatov on Saturday played down his differences with Ryabov, saying that his views did not "differ much" from those of his deputy.