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Russia: Duma Threatened With Early Elections

Moscow, 25 June 1997 (RFE/RL) - A top Russian government official has again raised the threat of early parliamentary elections after the Duma rejected a package of welfare benefits before going into recess yesterday.

Oleg Sysuyev, deputy Prime Minister, today accused the Duma of trying to create an extraordinarily tense situation. Sysuyev told a news conference in Moscow the government might raise "in a tough manner" the issue of changing the Duma later this year.

First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais accused yesterday the Duma of being "incapable of working." Asked about Chubais' remarks, presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky said today that "despite the Duma's frequent refusal to work with the executive," the government considers cooperation with the lower house essential for the country.

Only President Boris Yeltsin can call early elections. The next parliamentary election is due in December 1999.