D-Day in Moscow

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It all boils down to procedure: If Russia's parliament conducts a crucial vote on Friday by secret ballot, it'll be business as usual, says TIME Moscow bureau chief Paul Quinn-Judge. If deputies are asked to vote openly, the likely outcome will be dissolution of the legislature and new elections. The Communist-led opposition is committed to a third rejection of Boris Yeltsin's youthful nominee for prime minister, Sergei Kiriyenko, which would force Yeltsin to close down the Duma and hold new elections. "Despite their fierce public resolve, a secret vote will allow those in the opposition whose votes have been bought, or who don't want to face new elections, to simply confirm Kiriyenko in secret," says Quinn-Judge. "A public vote will force them to stick by their guns." The public-or-secret question will be decided immediately before the vote.