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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

No-Confidence Vote Has Little Chance in Duma

Communists pressed ahead Wednesday with a motion of no confidence in the Cabinet, though few gave the attempt much chance of success after a pro-Kremlin party abandoned its support for the measure.

Russia's NTV non-government television estimated only 130 to 150 deputies would back the no-confidence motion in the 450 member State Duma lower house, where 226 votes are needed for passage.

The Communists, who have cooperated with the Kremlin and Prime Minister Mikhail 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.

If deputies vote no confidence twice in three months, President Vladimir Putin must either fire the prime minister and cabinet or dissolve the Duma for new elections.

The no-confidence 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 many 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.

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