Yeltsin move blocked

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MOSCOW - The Russian parliament yesterday turned down a request by President Boris Yeltsin to postpone the next session of the full legislative body, the Congress of People's Deputies, from December until next spring, writes Peter Pringle.

Mr Yeltsin had asked for more time to show the people that his economic reforms were working, but the largely conservative parliament wants a confrontation with him over the reform programme as soon as possible.

Conservative MPs were not convinced by Mr Yeltsin's second argument for a delay - that the proper time for the Congress to meet would be in March, when the draft of the new constitution ought to be ready. They have little interest in the new constitution, which will eventually result in elections and the loss of seats by many who were elected or, in many cases, effectively appointed as the Soviet Union was dying.

The irritation among the conservatives is such that the hardliners have already called for Mr Yeltsin's resignation, and demanded the removal of Yegor Gaidar, his chief economist and the architect of the reforms.

Mr Yeltsin must decide between now and the opening of Congress whether to continue to compromise on the reforms, and let some if not all of the Gaidar team of economists go, or to continue to back Mr Gaidar and return to the strict monetary policies of the beginning of the year.