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AFP, June 10, 2003

Russian parliament takes up no-confidence motion in government

Russia's lower house of parliament agreed Tuesday to vote later this month on a no-confidence motion in the government of Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov.

The motion was tabled by the small liberal opposition Yabloko faction and the struggling Communist Party.

The State Duma committee agreed to schedule the vote for June 18 although few observers believe the motion can pass through a chamber that has shown itself remarkably loyal to the administration of President Vladimir Putin.

The motion collected only 103 signatures by Tuesday but would need to win 226 votes in the 450-seat chamber for Kasyanov's government to be officially censured.

Should the motion pass in two successive votes, Putin would have to either fire Kasyanov or keep his prime minister and disband parliament, calling for new legislative elections.

Such a scenario has never been played out in full in Russia's post-Soviet history.

Some analysts and the media speculate that the motion is part of a campaign plan by the struggling Yabloko and Communist blocs to raise their profile ahead of the December 7 Duma elections.

The no-confidence motion states that "an analysis of the socio-economic situation in our country shows that the government of the Russian Federation is failing to come to grips with its tasks."

Kasyanov has served as Putin's prime minister throughout the Russian leader's first term and political analysts predict that Putin is unlikely to part ways with Kasyanov before the Duma elections.

But Putin hinted in a state-of-the-nation address last month that the next government may be decided by the new parliamentary majority, a comment that suggests that Kasyanov's position in the government is less certain than it may seem.


AFP, June 10, 2003

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