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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Speaker Downplays Duma's Soviet Vote

State Duma speaker Gennady Seleznyov said Thursday he did not believe President Boris Yeltsin would postpone June's elections in response to the furor over a recent Duma resolution denouncing the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

The non-binding resolution, passed by the Communist-dominated Duma last Friday, drew further fire abroad Thursday, when UN General Secretary Boutros Boutros-Ghali attacked it as a breach of international law in a statement released by his spokeswoman.

Seleznyov told a press conference that some figures and media organizations had been trying to stir up public opinion over the resolution -- which formally declared invalid the December 1991 Belovezhskaya Pushcha accords renouncing the 1921 agreement on forming the Soviet Union -- with the aim of disrupting the June polls.

But he contradicted previous statements by other top Communist Party officials when he said,"I do not believe that Boris Yeltsin will agree to postpone the elections. ... Anyone agreeing to violate constitutional norms will be unable to maintain a favorable image either at home or abroad."

Seleznyov attempted to play down the significance of the resolution, calling it a civic political act that was not legally binding. "The Duma did not restore the Soviet Union or reappoint Mikhail Gorbachev as Soviet president," he said. "There are no legal consequences."

The resolution, which was proposed by the Communist Party, has been condemned by reformist political groups, as well as by Yeltsin and the leaders of the former Soviet republics, alarmed by what they saw as an impingement on their sovereignty.

The international fallout over the resolution continued Thursday. In Geneva, where Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma was paying a one-day visit to the United Nations' European headquarters, Boutros-Ghali's spokeswoman Therese Gastault said the move was "at variance with the universally recognized norms of international law."

"The resolution is not in accordance with the established regional co-operation mechanism, the Commonwealth of Independent States, the members of which are fully recognized and independent members of the United Nations," Reuters quoted her as saying.

Referring to U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher's assessment of the resolution as an "irresponsible step," Seleznyov said this amounted to interference in Russia's internal affairs.

On Wednesday, the State Duma deferred any discussion of an appeal by the Federation Council to reconsider the resolution, while a draft law from Yeltsin, reaffirming the 1991 agreement to dissolve the Soviet Union and form the CIS, was passed on to the Duma's legislative committee for consideration.

Neither document is now expected to be put before the legislature until early next month -- despite an appeal by Yeltsin to Seleznyov to put his draft before the Duma as an "urgent priority."

At his press conference, Seleznyov defended his decision to postpone discussion of Yeltsin's proposals: "It would be like setting off a bomb in the hall if we were to go straight to a debate without passing the law to the committees."