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Russia: Yeltsin Asks Duma To Confirm Primakov As Prime Minister

Moscow, 10 September 1998 (RFE/RL) - The Kremlin says President Boris Yeltsin asked parliament today to approve acting Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov as Russia's new prime minister. Earlier today acting Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, who was Yeltsin's original choice for the premiership, stepped aside. Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznyov hailed Primakov's nomination and said his chances of approval were high. The Duma has one week to vote on Primakov's nomination. Seleznyov said the vote would probably be held this weekend.

The Duma has twice rejected Chernomyrdin and threatened to reject him a third time, thus raising the possibility of the chamber being dissolved and fresh elections being called. Chernomyrdin, speaking at a meeting of the acting cabinet, said he was withdrawing his candidacy as he did not want to be a stumbling block and split society. He also said he had proposed Primakov to Yeltsin as a possible candidate. Chernomyrdin met hours earlier with Yeltsin and Primakov at the Kremlin.

Duma speaker Seleznyov said Primakov was a "worthy" candidate and that Yeltsin's decision was "the most reasonable" option.

Communist party leader Gennady Zyuganov also welcomed Primakov's nomination and said the acting Foreign Minister was likely to get "solid support" in the Duma.

Both the Communists and the pro-reform Yabloko party had proposed Primakov as a compromise figure to end the political stalemate.