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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Unity Decides Not to Vote In No-Confidence Motion

Pro-Kremlin members of the State Duma backed off Tuesday from a move that could eventually have forced President Vladimir Putin to choose between dismissing his Cabinet and dissolving parliament.

The pro-Putin Unity party announced that it would not participate in a vote set for Wednesday on a Communist-sponsored motion of no confidence in the government.

The decision almost certainly means the failure of the vote.

Last week, senior Unity members said they would back the motion as a tactical move to force an early election to the Duma, even though the party supported Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov's government.

If the Duma votes no confidence twice in three months, the president must either dismiss the Cabinet or dissolve parliament for new elections.

Unity leaders said they expected Putin to choose new elections — which they claimed they would win, although many political analysts cast doubt on that assertion.

But on Tuesday, Unity leader Boris Gryzlov told reporters that the party was not going to vote on the no-confidence question.

Gryzlov said that by threatening to vote for the motion, Unity had taken the wind out of the Communists' sails.

"The Communist faction wasn't able to talk about the government and its shortcomings. The Duma and the media were talking about something else — about the internal affairs of the Duma and the Duma's dissolution," Gryzlov said. "That was our political maneuver, and now any other attempt by the Communists to introduce a no-confidence vote will be a political farce."

Politicians from other parties had predicted Unity would back off from its no-confidence threat and had dismissed it as a bluff.

(AP, Reuters)