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Russian Impeachment Inquiry Goes On

January 11, 1999

MOSCOW (AP) _ A long inquiry into impeachment charges against President Boris Yeltsin is nearing an end, its chairman said Monday _ but the effort is not likely to lead to Yeltsin’s removal.

Over the last six months, the impeachment commission of the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, has determined that Yeltsin should be removed from office on four of five counts. It is currently considering the fifth count _ genocide against the Russian people.

Commission Chairman Vadim Filimonov said the impeachment charges should be completed and sent to the full Duma for a vote sometime next month, Russian news agencies reported.

To be approved, the impeachment motion must win a two-thirds majority in the lower house, which is considered unlikely. If it passes that hurdle, the motion must also pass through the Constitutional and Supreme Courts and then win passage in the upper house of Parliament _ an extremely unlikely scenario.

Perhaps because its prospects are so slim, or because few Russians are shocked by the charges, the impeachment inquiry has attracted very little attention in Russia. The Russian news media have paid vastly more attention to the congressional proceedings against President Clinton.

So far, the impeachment commission has agreed that Yeltsin should be impeached for instigating the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, using force against hard-line lawmakers in 1993, launching the botched war in Chechnya and neglecting the military.

The genocide charge, which accuses Yeltsin of policies that have impoverished the Russian people and led to a sharp decline in life expectancy, is expected to face the most opposition.

Yelena Mizulina, vice-chairwoman of the impeachment commission, said it was clear that political decisions had led to ``the population’s impoverishment and discontent,″ the Interfax news agency reported.

However, she said, ``This has nothing to do with the criminal laws.″

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