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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Duma Rejects No-Confidence Vote

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A Communist no-confidence vote in Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov's government failed by a wide margin in the State Duma on Wednesday.

Kasyanov, in office since last May, did not turn up at the session, where many deputies refused to back the Communist motion but still criticized his government. President Vladimir Putin was on a brief skiing break in Siberia.

Only 127 members voted in favor, far short of the 226 votes needed to pass in the 450-seat assembly. Seventy-six voted against and five abstained. Large numbers of deputies made good on their promises not to cast ballots.

The outcome had been expected as only the Communists and their Agrarian party allies had pledged support. The pro-Kremlin Unity party, which had earlier suggested it would back the no-confidence vote as a tactical move to improve its standing in the Duma, was among those refusing to vote.

The motion was the first time since Putin came to power 14 months ago that the Communists, the Duma's largest group, had openly opposed Kremlin policies.

Kasyanov later said he did not attend because he believed the motion did not represent opinion in the Duma. He noted "big differences" in talks with Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov.

"We did not view today's debate as an invitation by the entire Duma to engage in dialogue on essential issues, but rather a challenge issued by a single group," he told NTV television. "All the complaints about the government aired during the session are well known."

Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin described the lopsided failure of the motion as "a worthy response for a government that is working hard and resolving the most difficult of tasks."

Zyuganov had earlier told the Duma that ministers had solved none of Russia's problems left by ex-President Boris Yeltsin's eight years in office. Kasyanov, he said, promoted the same policies that had pitched Russia into a 1998 financial crisis.

"This government is pursuing a ruinous policy for the country. It is not making the slightest attempt to dig its way out of this deep rut," he told the chamber.

Other groups steered clear of backing the Communists.

Boris Nemtsov of the Union of Right Forces said the government was a "ship standing still" failing to provide heat and electricity to vast regions. Sergei Ivanenko of the liberal Yabloko party spoke of "colossal instability" in the Kremlin.

Putin has had little trouble in securing the Duma's approval for most of his proposals, including a deficit-free budget and laws to centralize authority and trim regional leaders' powers.

Unity caused a furor leading up to the vote, suggesting that if the government lost the motion and Putin dissolved parliament, it could win more seats at the communists' expense.