Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 203

The Yabloko letter claimed that First Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Maslyukov illegally granted Vimpelcom–the company running one of Russia’s largest mobile telephone networks–the right to operate an additional mobile telephone system, because a tender was not held for the additional license. The company’s president denied any illegitimate activities and said Vimpelcom would “definitely seek redress” if Yavlinsky’s charges even hinted at wrongdoing on the company’s part (The Moscow Times, November 3). For his part, Maslyukov, during a visit to Vimpelcom’s offices in Moscow yesterday, again denounced Yavlinsky’s charges, this time calling them a “provocation.” After receiving Yavlinsky and the Yabloko “zapros” report, Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov said Yavlinsky’s comments to him had boiled down to the idea that “when there is corruption in the country, then the government can’t be free of it.” By that logic, Primakov added provocatively, neither can Yabloko. But the prime minister continued to deny the charges. “I answer for the government and I don’t believe I appointed people who were implicated in corruption,” he said. In addition, Primakov said that the fight against corruption would be one of his government’s top priorities (Russian agencies, November 2). Another of those named in the Yabloko interrogatory, First Deputy Prime Minister Vadim Gustov, characterized Yavlinsky’s anticorruption campaign as “an attempt to make up for lost time in the presidential race.” This was an apparent reference to the fact that the Yabloko leader was forced to spend time recuperating from a heart attack last month, while other presidential contenders started to rev up their campaigns. At a Yabloko party congress last weekend, Yavlinsky confirmed he would run for the presidency in 2000.

Gustov’s view of Yavlinsky’s demarche has found support among many observers, including parts of the liberal press, which would otherwise be hostile to many of the policies and personalities in the new government. On the other hand, the Yabloko leader’s charges received some backing Monday from former Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko. In an interview with TV Tsentr, the television channel owned by the Moscow city government, Kirienko said that while he was premier, he had been offered favorable mentions in the press and even parliamentary backing for one of his measures in exchange for certain decisions (Agence France Presse, November 2).