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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

No-Confidence Motion Fails in Duma

A Communist-backed motion of no confidence in the Cabinet failed to muster enough votes in parliament Wednesday after a pro-Kremlin party abandoned its support for the measure.

Only 127 deputies voted for the motion in the 450 member State Duma lower house, where 226 votes are needed for passage. Voting against it were 76 deputies and five abstained.

A no-confidence vote could have disrupted the political calm that has prevailed since President Vladimir Putin was elected last year. If the Duma votes no confidence twice in three months, the president must either fire the prime minister and the Cabinet or dissolve the Duma for new elections.

The effort was considered mainly a Communist public relations platform without much chance of success - until it won the support last week of leaders of the Unity party, the second largest in the Duma and a reliable support of the Kremlin.

But Unity reversed course Tuesday after what was seen by some as an unsuccessful attempt to bluff the Communists into dropping the no-confidence effort by using the threat of new elections, which Unity leaders claimed they would win. The Communists said they were ready for new elections and didn't back down.

Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov declined the deputies request to appear for questioning before Wednesday's scheduled vote.

The Communists, who have cooperated with the Kremlin and Kasyanov on the budget and other issues in the past year, now say the government isn't paying enough attention to social welfare and is instead spending excess budget funds on paying foreign debt.