MOSCOW - Three top lawmakers called on the State Duma's procedures
committee Friday to get the ball rolling for a vote on dismissing
the chamber's speaker, Gennady Seleznyov.
The move was one of several attacks against Seleznyov by fellow
deputies over the past week, but politicians and analysts said
the campaign to unseat the Communist speaker could prove successful
only with the blessing of the Kremlin, which has thus far remained
neutral on the issue.
The request submitted Friday was signed by the head of the pro-Kremlin
Unity faction, Vladimir Pekhtin, the deputy leader of the Fatherland-All
Russia faction, Farida Gainullina, and the first deputy chief
of the liberal Union of Right Forces (SPS) faction, Boris Nadezhdin,
The idea of electing a new speaker was first floated Wednesday
when the Duma voted 245-159 to strip Seleznyov of his deciding
vote on the State Duma Council, the body that determines the chamber's
agenda. That vote had been initiated by the pro-Kremlin centrist
coalition that holds sway over the Duma's decision-making.
Speaking Saturday at the end of a four-day visit to Spain, Seleznyov
called the campaign against him the result of a "political
order" and said he intended to "uncover those who ordered
it" upon his return to Moscow, Interfax reported. Seleznyov
returned to the capital Sunday, but left the following day for
St. Petersburg, where he will remain until Friday.
Many liberal Duma deputies were critical of the anti-Seleznyov
effort and speculated that the Unity-led centrist coalition, which
played a key role in winning Seleznyov the speaker's seat, was
now attempting to force a redistribution of top posts in the Duma.
Most of the current committee chairmanships were doled out after
the December 1999 parliamentary elections as part of a deal between
the centrists and the Communists, which drew heated protest from
the smaller liberal factions, SPS and Yabloko.
Sergei Ivanenko, first deputy head of the Yabloko faction, called
the move to oust Seleznyov part of "the centrist deputies'
offensive aimed at destroying the package deal on the chamber's
top posts," Interfax reported.
Alexander Barannikov, deputy leader of the SPS faction, agreed
that the centrists would demand some personnel changes, Interfax
said. He speculated that Unity and its allies could be angling
for two committees now controlled by the Communists - on economic
policy and on labor and social policy.
Under this scenario, it was not clear whether the centrists would
be hoping to get the committee posts in exchange for agreeing
in the end to keep Seleznyov in the speaker's post, or whether
they would need to oust Seleznyov to claim the committee posts.
One of the deputies publicly spearheading the attack against
Seleznyov is Gennady Raikov, leader of the People's Deputy group.
Raikov has initiated an investigation by the Duma's procedures
committee into an advisory council that operates under Seleznyov.
Committee chief Oleg Kovalyov, a Unity member, said Friday that
the advisory council uses "official Duma stationary to offer
paid legal services to businesspeople and other individuals"
and the charge is 50 to 90 rubles a day, Interfax reported. Kovalyov
could not be reached Friday for further comment.
Seleznyov told reporters in Spain that he was not aware of the
Both Yabloko's Ivanenko and Barannikov of SPS predicted that
the moves to oust Seleznyov - which will likely resume at the
Duma's next plenary session on April 3 - can work only with the
"I think it won't be an easy task because Seleznyov is loyal
to the Kremlin and it seems no one there is harboring plans to
replace him," Barannikov said. So far, the Kremlin has stayed
on the sidelines of the conflict. President Vladimir Putin's envoy
to the Duma, Alexander Kotenkov, said Friday that replacing the
speaker would destabilize the chamber's work but the decision
"to elect and re-elect its speaker is exclusively the Duma's
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