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Russia: Stepashin Seeking Duma Support

Moscow, 17 May 1999 (RFE/RL) - Russia's acting prime minister, Sergei Stepashin, held a series of meetings today with leaders of various groups in the State Duma asking them to approve his appointment. Stepashin's chances have been bolstered by reports that the Communists are ready to support him. Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov said on television yesterday that Stepashin could be approved. This afternoon, Stepashin is to meet regional leaders and governors in the Federation Council (upper house of parliament).

Russian President Boris Yeltsin named Stepashin last week as his candidate for prime minister after he fired Yevgeny Primakov.

The Duma is to vote Wednesday on Stepashin's confirmation. If it rejects his nomination three times, Yeltsin is constitutionally obliged to dissolve the Duma and call new elections.

Russian share markets improved today following the Duma's failure to launch impeachment proceedings against Yeltsin and on expectations of Stepashin's approval.