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Russia: Duma Urges Chernomyrdin To Step Aside

Moscow, 2 September 1998 (RFE/RL) - Russia's State Duma has approved a motion urging Viktor Chernomyrdin to withdraw his candidacy for the post of prime minister. In a resolution passed today by 255 votes to 40, Duma deputies called on Chernomyrdin to withdraw his candidacy as a way of easing the confrontation between the legislature and the presidency. At the Kremlin today, U.S. President Bill Clinton held out the prospects of further financial aid for Russia if it continues on the path of market reform.

Deputies on Monday overwhelmingly rejected Chernomyrdin, who was named acting prime minister last month after President Boris Yeltsin sacked the government for failing to resolve the country's economic crisis.

The Duma convenes again Friday for a second vote amid strong resistance from some deputies who feel Chernomyrdin is at least partly to blame for the country's problems. If the Duma fails to approve Chernomyrdin in three votes, Yeltsin can dissolve the body and call new elections. Speaking at a news conference with Yeltsin at the end of their two-day summit, U.S. President Bill Clinton said he would "strongly" back financial help for Russia from the U.S. and other countries. But he made it clear any future help will depend on Russia's continuing reforms, and not turning away from future hardships.

Yeltsin said he is convinced stability will return to the Russian economy within the next two years. He added that Russia is not always looking for financial hand-outs from the West. He said all he wants from the U.S. right now is political support for Russian economic reform.

Yeltsin and Clinton also addressed the problems in Serbia's troubled Kosovo province. They called for an interim settlement that Clinton said should open the path for a peaceful solution to the six-month conflict in Kosovo.

Clinton said Russia and the U.S. have got to work together to prevent Kosovo's becoming another Bosnia. Yeltsin said there can be no military solution to the problems in Kosovo, where ethnic Albanians make up 90 percent of the population and are fighting for independence from Serbia.

However, in Bonn, German Defense Minister Volker Ruehe said the Russian government would be marginalized if it continues to obstruct a UN mandate for military intervention in Kosovo. Ruehe, speaking to a German parliamentary committee, said NATO will decide within a week on the framework for a possible military intervention in Kosovo.