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Russia: Duma To Vote On Kiriyenko On Friday

Moscow, 21 April 1998 (RFE/RL) -- Party leaders in Russia's State Duma decided today to hold a third and decisive vote on Prime Minister-designate Sergei Kiriyenko this Friday. Duma deputies have already rejected Kiriyenko's candidacy on two previous ballots. According to the Russian constitution, President Boris Yeltsin, who nominated Kiriyenko, must dissolve the Duma if his candidate is rejected on a third vote. Early elections will then have to be called.

Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov reiterated today during a visit to the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk that his faction, which is the largest in the Duma, will vote against Kiriyenko. A leader of the reformist Yabloko faction, Sergei Ivanenko, also said his group would not support Kiriyenko.

But observers say much may depend on whether the vote will be open or by secret ballot, which would make it easier for deputies to break party ranks. That is likely to be decided shortly before the actual vote. It is also unclear whether Yeltsin will attend the vote -- something which has swayed legislators in the past.

Some deputies, despite their personal opposition to Kiriyenko, have called for his confirmation, saying the priority must be to prevent the Duma's dissolution. Duma speaker Gennady Seleznyov, though he is a Communist, supports this position.

Yegor Stroyev, the Federation Council speaker, said Kiriyenko will attend a session of the upper house tomorrow. Stroyev said Kiriyenko will answer regional governors' questions on, among other issues, unpaid wages and pensions.