Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 161

Tycoon Boris Berezovsky hinted yesterday that President Boris Yeltsin may have to resign if “strong political authority is not created” in Russia. If such authority is not created soon, Berezovsky told a Moscow radio station, Yeltsin “will likely have to step down in order to clear the way for such an authority.” (Ekho Moskvy, September 2) Berezovsky is seen as the main force pushing for Viktor Chernomyrdin’s return to the premiership. Using his influence with Yeltsin’s family and aides, Berezovsky is said to have been trying since July to persuade the enfeebled president to resign. Berezovsky and other financial tycoons were reportedly alarmed by the efforts–largely ineffectual though they were–of former Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko to bring Russia’s financial barons to heel and force them to pay their taxes. Berezovsky is believed to have redoubled his pressure on the Yeltsin family after the August 17 devaluation of the ruble because he and the members of Russia’s banking community feared that the Kirienko government would not bail the banks out. On August 23, Yeltsin fired Kirienko and nominated Chernomyrdin as acting prime minister.

Berezovsky indicated yesterday that Chernomyrdin represents his idea of “strong authority.” Over his five years as premier, Berezovsky said, Chernomyrdin developed into a “heavyweight.” Other powerful political leaders, Berezovsky went on, include Krasnoyarsk Governor Aleksandr Lebed and Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov. Lebed is already informally allied with Chernomyrdin, but Luzhkov has so far kept himself apart. Berezovsky indicated that he favors the idea not of “a coalition government” (shorthand for a communist-dominated government) but of “a political coalition” bringing together the country’s most powerful politicians, including Lebed and Luzhkov, with the communists in a junior role. (Ekho Moskvy, September 2)