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Russian Communists Hail House Vote

December 22, 1998

MOSCOW (AP) _ For Russian Communist Viktor Ilyukhin, the House impeachment of President Clinton is a triumph of law and Kenneth Starr is a man to envy.

Ilyukhin, a former senior prosecutor turned prominent lawmaker, has been trying for years to prosecute President Boris Yeltsin. He finally succeeded last summer in setting up a parliamentary panel to review charges against Yeltsin ranging from treason to genocide against the Russian people. The latter, he says, was masterminded by Jews _ an assertion that caused an uproar last week.

``You can’t trust a man who can lie, especially if he’s a U.S. president, so I welcome the (House) move″ to impeach, Ilyukhin, a somber-looking 49-year-old, said Monday.

Ilyukhin praised the U.S. legal system for setting high standards for those in public office.

``The accusations (against Clinton) of obstructing justice and being dishonest simply wouldn’t sound serious here,″ Ilyukhin told The Associated Press. ``Our president has been lying all his life and everyone has grown accustomed to it.″

Ilyukhin also openly craves the power and funds that prosecutor Starr used to investigate Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky.

``Starr’s material situation has been much better″ than that of Yeltsin’s foes, Ilyukhin said.

Vadim Filimonov, a Communist who heads the parliamentary commission considering impeachment charges against Yeltsin, also praised the U.S. House of Representatives.

``I believe that a head of state must not only observe legal norms, but set a moral example, and I back their vote,″ Filimonov said in an interview.

Unlike the Communists, the Russian media and public have mostly supported Clinton throughout the scandal and derided his foes. Clinton’s alleged wrongdoing isn’t considered serious in Russia, where the legal system is weak and even such offenses as perjury are rarely prosecuted.

``American legislators are really strange people,″ the popular daily Komsomolskaya Pravda scoffed Monday. ``Mrs. Clinton doesn’t mind if her handsome husband has an affair, and Bill himself hasn’t embezzled from the state, sold it to oligarchs, ruled as a dictator and robbed his countrymen into poverty.″

Communists and other Yeltsin critics say he should be punished for sending tanks against his hard-line foes in parliament in 1993, launching the unsuccessful war in separatist Chechnya, ruining Russia’s armed forces, instigating the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, and waging genocide against the Russian people.

The Duma’s panel has already backed all the above charges except the last, which it continued debating Monday. Once the panel finishes its work, the full Duma will vote on whether to impeach.

Filimonov said Monday the vote is expected no earlier than February.

Several previous attempts to impeach Yeltsin failed, and the latest move is broadly expected to collapse, too. Even if it wins a two-thirds majority in both houses of parliament, it would need approval by the pro-Yeltsin Constitutional and Supreme Courts.

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