Victor Chernomyrdin, President Boris Yeltsin's choice for prime minister, pleaded with the parliament to confirm him in office.
The parliament rejected Chernomyrdin within minutes, by a margin of almost five to one.
The Kremlin immediately renominated Chernomyrdin, so there will be another vote next week. In the meantime, however, Russia remains in political limbo.
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"If the man's not capable of saving a sinking ship, why should I vote for him and get into the wreck myself?" Asked Zyuganov.
Yeltsin, who had only visited his office twice in the past two terrible weeks here, was at the Kremlin today. However, he did not appear in public.
The question now is how long it will take before the millions of unpaid Russians -- miners and doctors and teachers - take matters into their own hands.
A former general, Alexander Lebed, said Monday that the army -- which hasn't been paid in five months -- is in a "revolutionary mood."
Sources in the Kremlin described the mood tonight as "pure panic." It's a fear as old as Russia itself -- of disorder and chaos. A fear, in the words of Russia's beloved 18th-century poet, Alexander Pushkin of "a Russian
Revolt...senseless and merciless."
Reported by Richard Threlkeld
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