Yeltsin avoids clash on choice for PM

MOSCOW (AP) - The Russian parliament's lower house yesterday postponed the vote on Boris Yeltsin's nominee for prime minister after the President offered lawmakers a face-saving way out of a looming showdown.

Mr Yeltsin revoked his earlier nomination of 35-year-old Sergei Kiriyenko and resubmitted his candidacy in a letter that reached the State Duma early yesterday.

The move, a legal formality giving the house an extra week to consider the candidate, was taken "for the sake of preserving political stability and public accord."

The President has been feuding with the Communists and other hard-liners in the Duma over the formation of a new government since he abruptly sacked the previous one on 23 March. The hard-liners oppose Mr Kiriyenko's candidacy, citing his youth and lack of experience. They want a role in forming the new government and seek to scale back the President's free-market economic policies.

Mr Yeltsin initially ignored the demands and threatened to dissolve the Duma unless it approves his choice, but he now appears willing to compromise. He has agreed to hold broad discussions with his legislative opponents next week and suggested that they propose candidates for ministerial posts in the new government.

Mr Yeltsin has also said he will retain key members of the outgoing cabinet and has no plans to reverse his economic course.

However, the Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, warned that his faction - the Duma's largest - would reject Mr Kiriyenko in spite of Mr Yeltsin's compromise steps. He also said the Communists would only propose their candidates to the cabinet if the President agrees to revise his economic policies.