Legislators deal Yeltsin setback on 'political truce'

March 06, 1993|By Los Angeles Times

MOSCOW -- Russian lawmakers set the stage yesterday for a new confrontation with President Boris N. Yeltsin by voting down his proposed "political truce" and calling the Soviet-era Congress of People's Deputies into session next week to investigate whether he violated the Constitution.

The decisions by the Supreme Soviet -- Russia's smaller standing legislature -- capped a week of rising political temperatures, a veiled threat by Mr. Yeltsin to dissolve both lawmaking bodies and rumors of military intervention in an increasingly paralyzed political system.

In a sign of the tension spreading through official Moscow, Parliament Speaker Ruslan I. Khasbulatov instructed parliamentary guards to tighten security at the Grand Kremlin Palace to prevent "terrorist acts" or "illegal measures" at next Wednesday's opening Congress session.

"I've asked the guards to give me a gas pistol to defend myself," said Iona Andronov, an independent deputy. "We have to prepare our retreat from the Kremlin because at this point anything can happen."

When Congress met in December, fistfights erupted and Mr. Yeltsin lost a battle to keep economic reformer Yegor T. Gaidar as prime minister.

After a winter of frustration, Mr. Yeltsin himself first called for the Congress session, hoping to win approval of his proposed truce. It would have obliged him and lawmakers to stop raiding each other's spheres of activity until a new Constitution could clearly define their powers.

Yesterday, Mr. Khasbulatov branded Mr. Yeltsin's proposal an unacceptable "ultimatum." The Supreme Soviet, arguing it had no authority to tinker with the balance of power, rejected the truce, 157-4.

Then the lawmakers put their own item on the Congress agenda -- ordering a report by Russia's Constitutional Court on "obedience to the Constitution by the highest organs of state power."

Anti-Yeltsin forces suggested they might use the report to try to impeach the president; they failed to put that move on the agenda in December.

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