Russia’s parliament to day rejected a second no-confidence motion in President Boris Yeltsin’s government, a day after Yeltsin fired three top security ministers to avert a showdown.
Only 193 members of parliament’s lower house, the State Duma, voted for the motion, which needed 226 votes to pass. Voting against it were 116 lawmakers. There were 48 abstentions.
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomydin, who attended the special session with other top Cabinet officials, then withdrew another confidence measure that the government had insisted parliament consider.
The two actions signaled a truce in the worst political crisis in Russia in nearly two years.
Also ousted was Yevgeny Kuznetsov, governor of the Russian territory of Stavropol, where Chechen rebels reportedly bribed officials at roadblocks before storming the city of Budyonnovsk June 14 and seizing thousands of hostages.
The firings appeared carefully timed for a political bang and a media whisper: Yeltsin’s press secretary, Sergei Medvedev, announced them Friday evening after lawmakers had gone home and weekend newspaper deadlines had passed. A videotape of the spokesman reading the statement was shown on the late evening news.
The dismissals were the culmination of intense political maneuvering that defused today’s vote in the State Duma. Several lawmakers had predicted the noconfidence motion would fail, but government vote-counters evidently determined the margin was dangerously slim.
Legislator Mikhail Lapshin, whose Agrarian Party was one of the largest backing the motion, told the Interfax news agency that several members had decided to vote with the government as a result of the sackings.
The jettisoning of the hawkish troika could signal a Kremlin shift toward more moderate policies on Chechnya and other security issues in advance of parliamentary elections in December and the presidential race next summer.
Already castigated for the unpopular war in Chechnya, the government reaped a firestorm of criticism in the Budyonnovsk tragedy, in which at least 123 people were killed.
Legislators blamed the government for both the bloody failure of attempts to storm the hospital where the hostages were held and the getaway negotiated by the Chechen terrorists.