Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 107

The frenzy of rumors in Russia that The Family (Yeltsin’s inner circle) is planning on sticking around are, at a minimum, in the interest of those groups and individuals who feel that they lost out in the recent cabinet reshuffle. NTV television, controlled by MOST business empire founder Vladimir Gusinsky, along with TV-Tsenter, controlled by the Moscow city government, has been giving these rumors major play. On May 30, NTV suggested that Yeltsin may be unfit to be making decisions (see the Monitor, June 2). Yesterday, the Kremlin categorically denied rumors that it is planning to take “sanctions” against NTV and TV-Tsenter, including revoking their licenses. NTV, however, is vulnerable in another way: While it is privately owned, it has been allowed to pay reduced government rates for use of the airwaves.

Meanwhile, several media have reported that opponents of The Family–ranging from some oligarchs to members of the State Duma and Federation Council to the Communists to Yuri Luzhkov–may push for a special meeting of the parliament to consider the idea of setting up a State Council, made up of influential governors and parliamentarians, which would find ways of stopping The Family’s power grab and consider whether Yeltsin is fit to continue as head of state (Argumenty i fakty, No. 22, June 1999). Russia’s Constitutional Court, meanwhile, is meeting today to consider a State Duma request to clarify the constitutional provision for removing a head of state for health reasons (Russian agencies, June 3).