Russia's opposition-dominated lower house of parliament struck a defiant pose Wednesday in its stand-off with President Boris Yeltsin over who should be the country's next prime minister.
A Kremlin adviser issued an indirect warning to the State Duma, giving possible dates for a new parliamentary election if the president disbands the chamber for failing to back his candidate, Sergei Kiriyenko.Duma deputies earlier voted almost unanimously to ask the Constitutional Court to rule whether the president has the right to put forward the same prime ministerial candidate three times.
They also agreed to consider an open rather than secret vote on Kiriyenko during Friday's second ballot, a procedure which would make it harder for opposition deputies to break with an anti-Kiriyenko party line.
Yeltsin's press secretary, Sergei Yastrzhembsky, dismissed the deputies' moves, accusing them of "playing with the constitution."
He told a news briefing that Yeltsin was determined to go ahead with a planned weekend visit to Japan, whatever the outcome of Friday's vote.
"It is 150 percent certain (he will go)," he told reporters. Yeltsin last week postponed his talks with Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto by one week.