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Russia: Duma To Give Government 10 Days To Revise Budget

Moscow, 14 October 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Key members of the lower house of the Russian parliament have decided to give the government 10 days to revise its 1997 draft budget, says the deputy speaker of Russia's State Duma.

The Interfax news agency quoted Aleksandr Shokhin as saying today that a joint conciliation commission composed of Duma, Federation Council and government representatives would then begin work on the document.

Shokhin was speaking after a meeting of representatives of all Duma factions, as well as chairmen of several key economic Duma committees, to prepare a draft Duma resolution to be discussed at Wednesday's session.

Last week the communist and nationalist Duma overwhelmingly rejected the government's 1997 draft budget. Deputies said its spending cuts were too harsh. The draft envisaged tight economic measures, including a goal of limiting the deficit to 3.3 percent of gross domestic product.

Meanwhile, the Duma is expected to hold closed-door hearings on Chechnya tomorrow, according to Gennady Seleznyov, speaker of the Russian State Duma.

A final settlement in Chechnya no longer depends on the secretary of the Russian Security Council, Aleksandr Lebed, says Seleznyov. He told journalists today that Lebed had accomplished his task and that a solution to the Chechen conflict now depends on President Boris Yeltsin, his government as well as Russian legislators.

Lebed called for the hearings after many lawmakers in the Duma criticized the peace deal he reached with the Chechen separatists at the end of August. Lebed is expected to testify during the hearings.

Lebed and Chechen separatist commander Aslan Maskhadov signed a peace deal that has brought an end to fighting in the 20-month-old conflict.

However, Lebed has come under attack, most notably by Interior Ministry Anatoly Kulikov who said Lebed lacked the authority to conclude the pact. The deal calls for the withdrawal of most Russian troops from the Caucasus republic, but defers for five year settling the thorny issue of Chechen independence.