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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Duma Defies Yeltsin, Votes to Change Site

The State Duma on Friday challenged President Boris Yeltsin by voting to move its headquarters to either the Kremlin, the White House or the former Communist Party headquarters on Staraya Ploshchad.


The bellicose lower house of parliament, unhappy with its temporary quarters in the high rise on Novy Arbat, voted overwhelmingly to adopt a proposal to move to one of three "historical adminstration buildings."


They also heckled Yeltsin's interior minister, Viktor Yerin, when he reported to parliament on the fight against crime, attacking him for his role in closing down the former Supreme Soviet.


"Where are your stars," asked Alexander Nevzorov, the ultranationalist television presenter, referring sarcastically to the Hero of Russia medal Yerin his role in suppressing the uprising of Oct. 3-4.


"He is not a hero, he is a murderer," came a cry from the balcony.


Yeltsin has made it clear that the Duma will occupy none of the buildings named in Friday's resolution. In a decree he signed in January, the president had said he would solve the problem of the Duma's final headquarters at the end of the current parliament's term -- in two years.


But deputies voted 282-9 with 10 abstentions to approve the proposal, which was made by legislator Anatoly Luk-yanov, chairman of the Soviet parliament.


Asked after the vote where he thought the State Duma would sit in the future, a beaming Lukyanov said "Where I used to work."


That was in the Kremlin building where the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union used to meet, which is now home to none other than President Yeltsin.


The other sites mentioned in the Duma resolution are occupied by no less obdurate residents. The White House, almost fully renovated after Yeltsin blasted the last Russian parliament out of existence last October, now houses Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's government by dint of a Yeltsin decree.


The gray buildings on Staraya Ploshchad, home to the Soviet Communist Party Central Committee, and later the Russian government from August 1991 to the beginning of this year, now houses Yeltsin's administration.


Presidential spokesmen were quick to deny the possibility of a move anytime soon.


"That is a secondary issue right now," said Anatoly Krasikov. He added that Yeltsin, at his suburban dacha with the flu, was preparing his 75-page speech to both houses of parliament scheduled for next Friday.


Deputies have complained about cramped accommodations in the building on Novy Arbat since Yeltsin decreed that the Duma would sit there after last December's elections. Still wary of Yeltsin after last fall, they have suggested that the unsuitable quarters were intended to limit the Duma's work.


"Everything has been done to put us in this 30-floor barn so that we don't accomplish anything," lawmaker Igor Muravyov told Friday's session.


"Is there a state body in any other country that gets less respect than ours?" asked deputy Yekaterina Lakhova, a former Yeltsin adviser.


When deputies killed a proposal to build a new $500 million parliament center, the most likely new site appeared to be the Russian Management Academy on Prospekt Vernadskogo, in Moscow's windy far southwest outreaches.


Lawmakers from the Duma's Communist-nationalist wing berated Duma speaker Ivan Rybkin, for not demanding a better site. Friday's resolution orders him to negotiate for better real estate.