Communist Party leaders in the legislature of the Russian Federation initiated impeachment proceedings Thursday against federation leader Boris N. Yeltsin in a furious counterattack against his call for the resignation of Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev.
The attempt to oust Yeltsin as leader of the Soviet Union's largest republic took the form of an appeal signed by six ranking deputies calling for an extraordinary session of the Russian legislature. The appeal accused Yeltsin of "authoritarian" tendencies and of drawing Russia into a futile confrontation with the Soviet leadership.
"Yeltsin is unable to understand that he is ruining not only the Soviet Union but also the Russian Federation," the statement said. "People are tired of promises and political games and the endless settling of accounts with the (central government). In the final analysis, such a struggle is a struggle against Russia and Russians."
In a nationwide television broadcast Tuesday, Yeltsin accused the Soviet president of "deceiving the people" by failing to carry out pledges for radical change.
Yeltsin, widely regarded as Gorbachev's political opponent, has a precarious hold on the Russian legislature, his political power base. He was elected chairman of the republic's Supreme Soviet, or legislature, last May 29 by a margin of four votes. It would take only a few defections to oust him from this position.
The Russian Supreme Soviet later voted to convene an extraordinary session of its parent body, the Congress of People's Deputies, to discuss calls for Yeltsin's resignation. But the deputies were unable to agree on a date for the session.
In a separate development, Mircea Snegur, president of the small southwestern republic of Moldova, resigned Thursday, saying that the Communist Party was attempting to discredit him.
Snegur, a former party official now regarded as a liberal, said he would stay on as acting president if the Moldovan Supreme Soviet agreed to direct presidential elections.