Russian Leader Set to Gain Powers

THE Russian parliament yesterday approved in principle a plan to give populist leader Boris Yeltsin special powers to end chaos in the republic. It also set popular elections for a Russian presidency for June 12. By a total of 588 in favor and 292 against, the Congress of People's Deputies approved the measure, which could still be changed before final passage.

The vote marked a big turnaround for the opposition Democratic Russia bloc, which has been stymied for a week in an attempt to force a debate on the issue of an executive presidency - a post certain to go to Mr. Yeltsin. It also sets the stage for further clashes between the one-time Communist Party boss and his arch rival, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.

The measure, approved in part by a referendum last month, will now go before a special commission. A vote from the floor was expected later yesterday.

``Dear comrades, please bear in mind the draft of this resolution was worked out by the chairman [Yeltsin], so any cardinal amendments to it will lead us into a blind alley,'' said his deputy, Ruslan Khasbulatov, from the chair.

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