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Russia: Duma May Vote On Yeltsin's Removal Friday

Moscow, 22 January 1997 (RFE/RL) - The Russian State Duma today voted against considering a resolution calling for President Boris Yeltsin to step down from power because of failing health. The issue, however, could be taken up again as soon as Friday.

The Duma had voted today by 102 to 87 to reject a move to vote immediately on the measure after a majority in the 450-member legislative body had adopted a resolution in principle urging Yeltsin to resign on a first vote.

Itar-Tass says the Russian legislators will decide tomorrow whether to put the non-binding resolution up for debate on Friday.

Viktor Ilyukhin, the communist deputy who spearheaded the resolution, told Interfax that a vote on the measure could come some time in February.

After today's vote, Ilyukhin, who also heads the Duma security committee, expressed optimism, saying the communists had achieved their result by forcing "the power structures and presidency to talk about the situation."

Yeltsin unexpectedly returned from a bout of double pneumonia to the Kremlin today as the Duma debated the motion. Deputies voted to put the motion on the agenda despite a finding by its legal department last week that the body was not constitutionally empowered to dismiss the president on such grounds.