MOSCOW (AP) _ Parliament today put off a final decision on when to begin impeachment proceedings against President Boris Yeltsin, tentatively set to begin Thursday.
Parliament, dominated by hard-liners bent on Yeltsin’s ouster, decided to take up the schedule again next week after pro-government lawmakers said the proceedings should be postponed.
Yeltsin’s frequent illnesses and Russia’s economic crisis have weakened his power and made his ouster, still a long shot, more likely than it once was.
The motion must win a two-thirds majority in both houses of parliament and approval by Russia’s highest courts. The upper house, the Federation Council, has been more supportive of Yeltsin in the past than the lower house.
A Duma panel has charged Yeltsin with instigating the 1991 Soviet collapse, improperly using force against hard-line lawmakers in 1993, launching a botched war in Chechnya, bringing the nation’s military to ruin and waging genocide against the Russian people by pursuing economic policies that impoverished the country.
The charges were initiated by the Communists and other hard-liners, but the liberal Yabloko faction said it would back impeachment on one count _ launching the 1994-96 war in Chechnya.
Yeltsin denied rumors in parliament today that he would try to stop the impeachment by introducing a state of emergency or banning the Communist Party.
``We can’t ban the Communist Party,″ Yeltsin said in the Kremlin. ``This will backfire, because Russian people are quick to feel pity for victims of oppression.″
He also denied that his meeting Thursday with former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin signaled a plan to bring him back to replace Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, whose popularity Yeltsin is believed to perceive as a threat.
``Don’t believe these rumors about my plans to fire Primakov,″ he said. ``It’s nothing but the speculation and rumor. I believe that Primakov is useful at this stage, and later we shall see.″