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pravda.ru, June 7, 2003

Deputies Initiate Vote of No Confidence in Russian Government

The government will probably stay, but the precedent is more important

On June 10th, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) and the Yabloko faction plan to present 90 signatures to the State Duma council. The signatures are required to include the question of a vote of no confidence on the agenda of the forthcoming session of the Russian parliament's lower house.

Sources from the two parties reported that signatures had already been collected last week: consequently the subsequent development of the situation was only dependent on politicians' tactics. If there is a vote of no confidence, centrist factions will play a key role in the decision-making process. Centrist deputies criticized the Russian government at the beginning of May. Boris Gryzlov, head of the Russian Internal Ministry and member of the United Russia party, accused the government of inefficient work. Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov claimed that the government was serving oligarchs.

United Russia common members behaved quietly after the congress in March. When Yabloko faction leader Grigory Yavlinsky set the initiative to dismiss the cabinet of ministers, they claimed that Yavlinsky was being opportunistic. Right-wing deputies stated that such intentions were too provocative.

In fact, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov has nothing to be afraid of: even if there is a vote of no confidence and it is passed by parliament, Kasyanov will keep his post anyway. A first voting of no confidence is strictly recommendatory in nature, and the president may ignore it. The Duma will have to vote twice to make its decision come into effect.

The draft decree of the lower house of the Russian parliament (prepared by the Yabloko faction), states that the cabinet of ministers is incapable of achieving real economic growth and bringing to an end the dependence of the Russian economy on the raw materials industrial sector. Yabloko deputies believe that seven factors demonstrate the growing crisis in the government. They say that the government is unable to guarantee security for Russia and Russian citizens and curb criminality. Vital economic reforms have failed, the government runs an anti-social policy, protecting the interests of large monopolies and oligarchs. The government has virtually refused to run military reform. In addition, the cabinet of ministers takes hazardous decisions owing to momentary commercial interests. To crown it all, deputies think that the government is unable to implement administrative reform.

The Yabloko faction describes the current situation as the threshold of stagnation and instability due to either rough mistakes or mere inaction. "Changing the government promptly implies preventative crisis action," Yabloko's statement to the Duma runs. There are no doubts that the communists, agrarian parties and certain independent deputies share this point of view. However, 226 votes are needed to make the government quit. The Communist Party, the Agrarian Party and Yabloko hold in total 150 votes, the Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) and the Union of Right-Wing Forces bring the total to only 208 votes. This means that centrist factions, such as Unity, Fatherland - All Russia, Regions of Russia, People's Deputy group will have to make a decisive vote on the issue. However, the deputies of these factions do not make decisions without the Kremlin's approval. Experts doubt that the Kremlin authorities will take such a decision: there is absolutely no point in disturbing the situation six months before elections. Therefore, the precedent to dismiss the Russian government will just remain a precedent.

Commenting on the situation, Unity's leader Vladimir Pekhtin said: "our style of working with the government is about searching for common positions, compromises on moot questions." At the same time Pekhtin acknowledged that "the government hampers the reforms that the president initiates and resolves vital issues very slowly."

At the same time, Grigory Yavlinsky originally stated that the Yabloko faction would be satisfied with just an opportunity for the Duma to discuss both the activity of the government on the whole and the activity of every minister in particular.

On the other hand, communists might not be happy about this situation. Discussing the dismissal of the Russian government means a lot to them, as it will demonstrate the CPRF's authority and the correctness of their stance. Consequently the communists will probably urge massive protest actions, meetings, demonstrations and strikes. Other left-wing parties, like the Rebirth of Russia party do not support the idea of dismissing the government. Gennady Seleznyov, the party's leader, stated that there was no point in making the government resign, as thedeputies would not have enough time to agree upon a new candidacy for the position of prime minister.

Most likely, Yabloko faction deputies and communists will present 90 signatures to the Duma's Council. The lower house of the parliament will consider the a vote of no confidence, although 226 votes are unlikely to make the decision efficient. As a result, the government will stay in its place, the Yabloko faction will have set a precedent, and communists will be able to say that they were right.

The Union of Right-Wing Forces will have an opportunity to gloat, and centrist factions will ask the cabinet for a payback. Probably this will be quite amusing for the president.


pravda.ru, June 7, 2003

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