Yeltsin arrives at Kremlin as Duma considers impeachment
January 22, 1997
Web posted at: 1:45 p.m. EST (1845 GMT)
From Moscow Bureau Chief Eileen O'Connor
MOSCOW (CNN) -- Two days after being released from the
hospital, Boris Yeltsin made a surprise trip to the Kremlin
Wednesday to counter a move to oust him from the Russian
Pro-government deputy speaker Alexander Shokhin told
reporters that a vote on a Communist-sponsored resolution to
impeach him failed in the Duma, Russia's lower house of
parliament, by a 102-87 vote. But the Duma's press office
said that vote was to delay immediate consideration of the
resolution in order to allow more discussion.
The Russian president was hospitalized January 8 with
pneumonia, about two weeks after he returned to work
following recuperation for heart bypass surgery.
News of Yeltsin's return to the Kremlin did not drown out
calls for his removal from opponents who claim the president
is too sick to serve.
During the stormy parliament session Wednesday, members of
the pro-government Our Home is Russia party walked out of the
chambers, refusing to discuss the resolution at all.
Presidential spokesman Alexander Kotenkov told Duma members
that the impeachment proceedings were unconstitutional.
The Duma's legal advisers have also told parliament they have
no legal right to impeach the president.
"If the Duma passes this resolution, that would give the
president all grounds to disband it and set new elections,"
said Sergei Belyayev, head of the Our Home is Russia party.
But the Communist lawmakers say Yeltsin cannot rule Russia
from a sickbed.
"Due to his state of health, the president is incapable of
exercising his powers," said parliamentary deputy Viktor
Ilyuhkin, who introduced the impeachment resolution.
Yeltsin has not been seen in public since a January 6
meeting and was not seen by reporters Wednesday. The Kremlin
statement that he met with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin
did little to allay concerns about Yeltsin's health.
His own staff and government are concerned enough that they
are exploring ways to redistribute the power of the president
-- perhaps to the prime minister, or through the creation of
the post of vice president.
Surprisingly, even opponent Alexander Lebed -- who finished
third in presidential voting and served briefly as Yeltsin's
security chief -- supports the redistribution of power and
doesn't support parliamentary efforts to remove Yeltsin
before the end of his term.
"The situation in the country is very complex," he told CNN.
"The nation needs to be governed with a sure hand as never
before. And the personal drama of a single man must not
become a tragedy for the whole country."
Increasingly, Russians from across the spectrum of political
beliefs are coming to the conclusion that something must be
done to move the country forward, despite a sick president.
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