Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bomb Call Evacuates State Duma

A bomb threat Friday forced federal legislators out of the State Duma building in downtown Moscow less than two hours after they rejected President Boris Yeltsin's candidate for prime minister, Sergei Kiriyenko.

An unidentified person called police at 6:25 p.m. to claim that a bomb had been planted at the lower chamber of parliament's Okhotny Ryad building.

Ten minutes later most of the deputies and other Duma personnel were standing on the street as a warning broadcast on the building's intercom system monotonously urged everyone still in the building "to keep calm, shut windows, turn off heaters and leave in an organized way."

As of late Friday, the Moscow police bomb squad and Federal Security Service agents were still combing offices at the Okhotny Ryad building. Their painstaking search was assisted by just one sniffer dog, Duma officials said.

The building remained sealed, but some deputies, including Yabloko faction head Grigory Yavlinsky, were still inside as of 8 p.m., unwilling to take the bomb threat seriously.

Police officers standing guard at the building's entrances said they were skeptical that any explosive would be found.

Some of those who were evacuated went home, but others lingered. One legislator said the threat could have been an effort to coerce parliamentarians into approving Kiriyenko when his candidacy is considered a second time.

"I don't rule out the possibility that it could have been an attempt by the executive branch of power to apply pressure," said Gennady Zyuganov, who heads the Duma's Communist faction.

Zyuganov's Duma opponents agreed that the threat could have been made to impress the Communists.

Konstantin Borovoy, an independent deputy and one of the chamber's most outspoken liberal members, said it is highly unlikely that the Friday caller was out to have the chamber dissolved as was reportedly the case March 16, 1996.

On that day, the Duma was evacuated and the Okhotny Ryad building was sealed by officers of Yeltsin's security service after a bomb threat.