Interviewed on Russian TV last night, tycoon Boris Berezovsky denied media reports that he had been reprimanded by President Boris Yeltsin for trying to meddle in the formation of the new Russian government. (NTV, April 16; see also the Monitor, April 16) Berezovsky did, however, dismiss the chances of Yeltsin’s appointee, Sergei Kirienko, of winning endorsement by the State Duma today. Berezovsky said he had nothing personal against Kirienko, whom he described as likable enough. But, Berezovsky said, Kirienko lacked the necessary experience to be entrusted with running the country should the president be incapacitated.
Instead, Berezovsky sang the praises of his own preferred candidate, acting Deputy Premier Ivan Rybkin, under whom Berezovsky worked when Rybkin headed Russia’s powerful Security Council. "Rybkin is an exceptionally intelligent and decent man," Berezovsky said. "He would be at least as good a candidate as Kirienko."
Berezovsky admitted that he is supporting the campaign of retired General Aleksandr Lebed, who is running for governor of Krasnoyarsk Krai in eastern Siberia, Russia’s second largest component territory. He explained, however, that he was backing Lebed not because he endorsed Lebed’s presidential ambitions, but in a calculated effort to undermine the presidential chances of other candidates whom Berezovsky sees as equally undesirable presidential material: Communist party leader Gennady Zyuganov and Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov. None of the three, he said, could provide the "continuity" that Russia needs, and their efforts to change Russia’s economic course would inevitably lead to civil strife and bloodshed.
Yeltsin-Hashimoto Talks Appear to be On.