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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Impeachment Drive Backed by Yavlinsky

Two major opposition parties met separately Monday to discuss their tactics on the upcoming vote to impeach President Boris Yeltsin, with liberal Yabloko party leader Grigory Yavlinsky confirming his continued support for the third of five charges f the launching of the war in Chechnya.

Support from Yabloko's 40-plus deputies would give the Chechnya charge the best chance to gather the necessary 300 votes in the 450-seat lower house, while the other four charges appear long shots.

Yavlinsky argued that the bloody attempt to suppress Chechen separatists was the only charge that constituted a criminal offense. "We are going to insist on legal impeachment procedure. We refuse to consider political charges," Yavlinsky was quoted as saying by Interfax.

The Communists, the largest group in the State Duma, met in closed session.

The beginning of the impeachment debate has been tentatively scheduled for Wednesday. However, it could take several days before a vote is actually called, and the whole process could be postponed until next month while the opposition tries to gather enough votes to avoid an embarrassing defeat.

The other charges forwarded by the Duma impeachment committee earlier this year involve the breakup of the Soviet Union, the use of force against a rebellious parliament in 1993, the collapse of the military, and "genocide" of the Russian people by decisions that induced poverty.

The Communists are the driving force behind the impeachment move. But they have postponed voting several times and have seemed content to drag out the process, using it to criticize Yeltsin while avoiding actually trying to remove him.

The news media has been full of speculation that if the Duma goes ahead with impeachment, Yeltsin may retaliate by firing the communist-backed Cabinet of Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov. That would precipitate a political crisis and possible dissolution of the Duma f a prospect the leftists deputies don't appear to relish.

According to the newspaper Izvestia, the Chechnya charge is three votes short with 297 supporters, assuming solid support from 129 Communists, all 46 members of the leftists Popular Rule and the 36 Agrarians, plus some independents and member of centrist parties.

There was no official reaction from the Kremlin on Monday to Yavlinsky's statements. Instead, presidential spokesman Dmitry Yakushkin said that the president is going to a have a busy week dealing mostly with the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, Itar-Tass reported.

Bargaining with the Duma would most likely fall to Primakov, who is planning to meet the leaders of Duma factions Tuesday. One of topic at the meetings was expected to be impeachment, Itar-Tass said.

Yavlinsky criticized Primakov as a throwback to the stagnation days of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. "This Brezhnev style of the government absolutely does not suit us," he was quoted as saying by Interfax.

But he stressed that Yabloko did not advocated firing Primakov. Yavlinsky supported his nomination for prime minister but has criticized his economic policies.