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Russia: Duma Postpones Vote On Chernomyrdin Until Monday

Moscow, 4 September 1998 (RFE/RL) - Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, today postponed until Monday a key confirmation vote on acting Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. The Duma had been expected to reject Chernomyrdin for a second time today. The postponement followed a last-minute offer of more consultations from Russian President Boris Yeltsin. Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, who heads the largest bloc in the Duma, supported the delay but said that Yeltsin must revoke the candidacy of Chernomyrdin. Zyuganov said that Yeltsin should present a different candidate and added the Communists have no intention of agreeing to any new power-sharing agreements.

If the Duma rejects the president's choice of prime minister three times, Yeltsin is obligated to dissolve the lower chamber and call new parliamentary elections within three months.

Earlier today, Chernomyrdin won the backing of the upper house Federation Council in a non-binding resolution. Before the vote, Chernomyrdin outlined an economic plan which he said would impose an "economic dictatorship" in Russia.

Chernomyrdin said he favors the "controlled printing of money" to pay back wages, but that each ruble in circulation would be backed by hard currency. He also called for the introduction of a single tax rate of 20 percent, tax breaks for new businesses and industries and a single land tax. He said the government should also introduce effective bankruptcy proceedings for chronic tax defaulters and bring in a state monopoly on alcohol production.

The Russian ruble tumbled by more than 20 percent today, trading at almost 17 rubles to the dollar -- the second worst single-day loss for the Russia currency. The State Statistics Committee said inflation had risen to 15 percent for the month of August.