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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yeltsin Sure About Premier's Confirmation in Duma




President Boris Yeltsin said Friday he expected no real opposition when the Communist-dominated lower house of parliament convenes to approve his new choice for prime minister.


Yeltsin formally instructed Alexander Kotenkov, his envoy to the State Duma, to submit Vladimir Putin's candidacy at the Duma session Monday.


"It would be preferable if [he] is approved on the first attempt,'' the president, speaking a bit hoarsely, told Kotenkov in the Kremlin. "He might not be approved, but there will be no tragedy. He will pass on the second try.''


Yeltsin abruptly sacked Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin and named Putin, a former KGB spy, as his successor Monday - the fourth Cabinet reshuffle in 17 months.


Under Russian law, the Duma is disbanded if it rejects a presidential candidate for prime minister three times. Communists and other hard-liners, who dominate the house, appear reluctant to defy Yeltsin because they need their parliamentary offices and other privileges of incumbency to campaign for December's parliamentary elections.


Communist leader Gennady Zuyganov, indeed, seemed conciliatory, saying he saw no "crucial differences'' between Putin and Stepashin, who at the time won overwhelming Duma approval.


At the session Monday, Communists will demand from Putin that he ensure fair parliamentary elections and raise Russians' living standards, Zyuganov said.


Kotenkov, meanwhile, told reporters that Yeltsin would "never'' disband the Duma.


At their Kremlin meeting, Yeltsin and Kotenkov also discussed ways to advance approval of presidential bills that have been sent to the Duma.


"You must work with the deputies who have authority,'' Yeltsin told Kotenkov. "It is serious work.''


According to Kotenkov, the Kremlin insists on the approval of some 64 bills, including 28 of priority importance.


Among these is the ratification of the START II arms reduction treaty, which was ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1996. The dominant hard-liners have balked at its ratification, claiming that the treaty would hurt Russia's security.


The Duma's Communist speaker, Gennady Seleznyov, said this week that the house was unlikely to ratify the treaty because of lawmakers' distrust of the United States.


Another issue is the year 2000 budget, expected to be submitted to the Duma on Aug. 25 after the Cabinet reviews the Finance Ministry's draft. "The Duma should pass the budget before its powers expire,'' Kotenkov said.


Kotenkov also mentioned a bill on a state of emergency, which he said was needed to more effectively confront crises, such as the Islamic uprising in Dagestan, a southern region bordering breakaway Chechnya. The government is now trying to uproot the rebellion.


Russian media and politicians have expressed concern that Yeltsin may use the state of emergency to put off parliamentary and presidential elections, but the Kremlin has said that they would be held as scheduled.


Russia has a Soviet-era bill describing specifics of a state of emergency, and the Constitution allows Yeltsin to introduce it on consent of the upper house of parliament, the Federation Council.


Putin discussed the possibility this week at his meeting with the upper house members, saying that there was no immediate need for the state of emergency but leaving the door open.


It remains unclear whether the Federation Council would support emergency moves, though its speaker, Yegor Stroyev, seemed to be in favor of introducing a state of emergency in parts of Dagestan.


Stroyev harshly criticized Yeltsin for the Cabinet reshuffle, saying in remarks cited by Itar-Tass that it undermined stability in Russia. "The people are stunned by the government reshuffles,'' Stroyev said on a trip to Siberia.