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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Communists Urge End To Presidential Elections

Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov called Monday for constitutional amendments that would abolish nationwide presidential elections and transfer some presidential powers to the Cabinet and parliament.

While typical of the Communists' political grandstanding, Zyuganov's remarks dimmed the prospects for a truce between the government, President Boris Yeltsin's administration, and the Communist-dominated opposition in parliament.

All sides have been calling for reconciliation, but have different ideas on what it should entail.

"The president should not necessarily be elected by all citizens," Zyuganov was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying. "It is not necessary to drag the whole country into the process.''

He also said some presidential powers should be redistributed between government and the legislature. Months of political peace in Russia ended abruptly last week with a standoff between Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov and influential tycoon Boris Berezovsky, and an eruption of rumors about a government shakeup.

Yeltsin's history of unpredictable behavior has made many nervous that he may decide to fire Primakov, who has been getting increasingly assertive. In what many analysts saw as an attempt to create guarantees for his job, Primakov proposed a political truce that would bar Yeltsin from disbanding parliament or the government f in exchange for a promise that parliament drop impeachment proceedings against Yeltsin.

After the proposal drew sharp criticism from all sides, Yeltsin's aides offered a new draft agreement that would only bar the president from firing Primakov and the Cabinet without notifying lawmakers. The new draft agreement also includes a promise from both parliament and Yeltsin not to rewrite the constitution.

Beside calling for doing away with national presidential elections, Zyuganov also said that the Russians shouldn't be allowed to elect their regional governors. "The vertical executive authority has been destroyed by endless gubernatorial elections. This system must be repaired,'' Zyuganov was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, a poll released Monday indicated that public support for Zyuganov has been shrinking, while Primakov has been gaining popularity. Yeltsin, whose ratings generally stay in the low single digits, didn't even register in the poll by the independent All-Russian Center for Public Opinion Research.

The poll results show 29 percent of respondents approved of Primakov, up from 24 percent in November. Zyuganov's rating was down to 18 percent from 20 percent in November. Interfax, which carried the poll results, gave no margin of error.