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#8 - JRL 7217
June 10, 2003
Duma safeguards lunch, Kasyanov's future
By Roman Tushin

The State Duma has set the date on which it plans to bury the controversial issue of a no-confidence vote in the government. As was expected, the vote will take place on Wednesday, June 18.

On Tuesday the State Duma council decided that the question of passing a vote of no-confidence in the government, suggested by the Communist and the Yabloko factions will be considered at the plenary session on June 18. The choice was limited by prior engagements and holidays.

According to house regulations, after a proposal on a vote is forwarded to the council for consideration at a plenary session, it has to be taken within a working week. In other words, it could happen either at tomorrows session, or on Friday. Wednesday could not be chosen not only because that would mean excessive haste, but also because it has already been decided that tomorrow the lower house will listen to a report by the prime minister. The deputies would surely find it difficult listening to Kasyanovs report while thinking of a no-confidence vote in his government.

The State Dumas schedule is also interrupted by the June 12 Independence Day holidays Fridays session is not gathering, making the next session date June 18. The chosen date also suits the votes initiators as it gives more time to prepare for the debate and even a chance to consult with those parliamentarians who are still undecided. On Monday, as the question was raised at the State Duma Council, Yablokos representative Sergei Ivanenko said that his faction and their partners wanted to discuss the question on June 18.

The council also set a fixed time for the start of the votes discussion 17-00. Usually, the State Duma passes decisions on statements and addresses (and the no-confidence vote was submitted in the form of an address) before lunch. But as the question is complex and almost surely will cause some prolonged discussions, it was left for the afternoon session so the deputies could fit in lunch beforehand.

Even before the council discussed the date for the votes consideration, most of the factions had already formed their opinion on the initiative. It is very likely that the number of deputies who will support it will not exceed the number of those who signed the initial address. The Communists and Yabloko managed to gather just 103 signatures which is less than half the number needed for the address to be adopted (226 votes). Almost certainly, the authors of the initiative will fail to persuade another 123 parliamentarians to join then in just over a weeks time.

Four of the bigger centrist factions, whose attitude to the no-confidence vote will be decisive, voiced their opinion on Monday. Anatoly Aksakov of the Peoples Deputy faction told Interfax that his faction would not support the move as they consider it as nothing more than a pre-electoral PR stunt by the Communists and Yabloko. Aksakov said that all the problems in the Cabinet could be solved at this Wednesdays session by asking questions of Kasyanov after he delivers his report to the Duma.

Boris Nadezhdin of the Union of Rightist Forces also said his colleagues considered the vote a PR stunt and would not support it.

The Communists and Yabloko have already got all the possible support from independent deputies and those renegades who will vote in favour of the no-confidence address regardless of the instructions from their faction leaders. On Monday it became known that the address had been signed by independent deputies Nikolai Gubenko, Vladimir Ryzhkov, and Oleg Shein of Russias Regions. But their votes are unlikely to significantly shift the balance.

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