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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 February, 2005, 15:25 GMT
Russia no confidence vote fails
By Steve Rosenberg
BBC News, Moscow

Mikhail Fradkov
Mikhail Fradkov was forced to defend himself in parliament
The Russian government has survived a vote of no confidence in the lower house of parliament, the Duma, over its handling of social reforms.

The motion was tabled by the communist and nationalist opposition, which is angry with the government's handling of reforms that sparked public protests.

It received the support of 112 deputies, far short of the 226 needed to force the government to resign.

Two-thirds of all Duma deputies belong to the pro-Kremlin United Russia party.

This grouping had no intention of bringing down the government.

But the final result is hardly a ringing endorsement of Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov and his ministers.

Damaging criticism

In the end, only 20 MPs voted against the no confidence motion. Most deputies refused to vote at all - an attempt, it seems, to distance themselves from an unpopular government without triggering its resignation.

Perhaps most surprising of all is the fact that this vote took place.

Within the last year, Russia's parliament had gained a reputation for being a rubber stamp of the Kremlin.

Now, for the first time, more than 100 opposition deputies had succeeded in tabling a motion of no confidence in Mr Putin's government.

Mr Fradkov, was forced to defend himself in parliament, apologising for his government's mistakes in carrying out the social security reform, and promised improvements.

His government survives, but it has been damaged by criticism both in parliament and from the public. Even United Russia has given it just two months to improve its work, or face the consequences.

Protests catch Russia off guard
17 Jan 05 |  Europe

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