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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yavlinsky May Back Coalition

Liberal leader Grigory Yavlinsky has agreed in principle to joining a coalition of "democratic forces" to counter communist influence in parliament, a senior parliamentarian said Friday.

Sergei Belyayev, head of the centrist Our Home Is Russia faction, told Itar-Tass the proposed alliance might be joined by Yavlinsky's Yabloko party and other anti-communist groups.

But Interfax quoted him as saying Yavlinsky -- who has up to now been one of the government's fiercest critics -- had linked his backing to certain unspecified conditions.

The attempt to form a coalition in the State Duma follows President Boris Yeltsin's victory over Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov in Wednesday's presidential election runoff.

Yeltsin, 65, must now deal with the legislature, which is dominated by communists and nationalists and could prove troublesome as the president presses ahead with economic reforms.

The Duma, where the communists are the biggest faction, also has the power to reject Yeltsin's appointment of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin as prime minister. But the communists have hinted they will not block him.

Belyayev, seeking to keep up the momentum of Yeltsin's election victory, said the proposed coalition could seek to replace communist Duma speaker Gennady Seleznyov.

However, the balance of power in the Duma is clearly in favor of the communists following a Dec. 17 election.

Interfax quoted Belyayev as saying he was counting on securing 234-246 votes for the coalition in the 450-seat chamber.

But it was not clear where these votes would come from. It seemed likely the group would depend for a majority on support from Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party.

"Even if the LDPR is not formally part of the coalition, it will vote together with us on key questions," Belyayev said.

The December election gave the Communist Party 157 seats, but together with their agrarian and other allies they can command some 190 votes. This includes leftist deputies elected in single-member constituencies.

The proposed "democratic coalition" will have the 55 seats of Our Home is Russia, possibly Yabloko's 45 seats and support from other small centrist and liberal groups.

But it will need the backing of a substantial number of independent deputies.

Zhirinovsky's LDPR has 51 seats in the chamber, where half of the seats were allocated by party lists and half won in individual constituencies.