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The Associated Press, June 11, 2003

No-Confidence Debate Looms

Misha Japaridze / AP
Gennady Seleznyov meeting Tuesday with visiting Athens Mayor Dora Bakovianni

The State Duma will consider a motion by Communist and Yabloko deputies to hold a vote of no confidence in the government of Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov next week, legislators said Tuesday.

The Duma Council, which sets the chamber's agenda, scheduled debate of the motion for next Wednesday, said Oleg Shein, a member of the centrist Russia's Regions faction who sits on the council.

Kasyanov is to report to deputies on the Cabinet's social policies next Wednesday.

A no-confidence motion needs a simple majority of 226 votes in the 450-seat Duma to succeed. That is considered all but impossible because the Communists, their allies and Yabloko can gather only about 150 votes. The Duma is dominated by pro-Kremlin centrist parties.

"We consider our initiative ... the only constitutional means to express our attitude toward [the Cabinet's] work for the past three years and for the last six months in particular," Yabloko head Grigory Yavlinsky told reporters Tuesday. "Because of the current Duma's composition, the fate of the government fully depends on the president. If he orders the factions controlled by him to vote for the dismissal of the government, dismissed it will be."

In a joint appeal justifying the no-confidence vote, the Communists and Yabloko said the government had "failed to ensure clear strategic prospects of development for the country, and to secure the national interests of the state, and it also acts against those interests."

"In a few months, by fall 2003, the government's inability to act could bring the country to destabilization, to the rising popularity of extremists of all kinds, right before the parliamentary and presidential elections," the statement said.

The statement said the government had proved unable to increase the tempo of economic development, provide for the needs of the army, protect citizens from crime or reform the bureaucracy, while it had followed anti-social policies and favored monopolies and politically connected entrepreneurs.

Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznyov said the no-confidence call was "an untimely initiative from a political point of view," adding it was a way for the parties to attract attention before Dec. 7 Duma elections.

According to a recent nationwide poll of 1,500 people conducted by the Public Opinion Fund, the Communist Party will win the largest chunk of votes in the elections.

Twenty-three percent of respondents said they would vote for the Communists, followed by 21 percent for the pro-Kremlin United Russia party. Six percent said they would vote for Yabloko. The customary margin of error is 4 percent.


The Associated Press, June 11, 2003

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