Moscow, 27 March 1998 (RFE/RL) - Russian parliamentary deputies were wary in their reactions to President Boris Yeltsin's formal nomination today of Sergei Kiriyenko as prime minister. Yeltsin threatened to dissolve the Duma if it rejected the appointment. Under the Constitution, Yeltsin may dissolve the Duma, the lower house of Russia's Parliament, if it rejects his nominee for prime minister three times. Also today, Yeltsin signed into law Russia's much-delayed 1998 budget, which forecasts a budget deficit equivalent to near five percent of gross domestic product.
Yeltsin designated Kiriyenko acting Prime Minister after Yeltsin dismissed the whole government Monday. Yeltsin sent the formal nomination to the Duma today for confirmation.
Deputies criticized Yeltsin's threat to dissolve the Duma if it rejected the appointment. The Duma's Chairman, Communist Gennady Seleznyov, said the chamber will not submit to threats. But, he also said deputies were reluctant to go too far in their defiance, saying the Duma will not give Yeltsin any constitutional grounds to dissolve it. Seleznyov said the Duma might even vote for Kiriyenko on the first attempt, most likely next Friday.
Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov said Kiriyenko's nomination was a bad choice and urged Yeltsin not to threaten the Duma with dissolution.
Grigory Yavlinsky, leader of the liberal Yabloko faction, suggested that Kiriyenko might be a temporary figure. Kiriyenko met Yavlinsky today as part of consultations on a new government. After the meeting Kiriyenko said he would not name his cabinet until the Duma confirms him.
Yeltsin, meeting early today with Kiriyenko, also said that the latest government shake-up will not be cosmetic. Yeltsin said he will bring in new faces and said both the government and the presidential administration will be cut in half.