Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 190

The immediate political fallout from the Federation Council’s decision to defy Boris Yeltsin a third time concerning Yuri Skuratov could be a shake-up at the top of the Kremlin administration. The decision to put the Skuratov question to a third vote was reportedly initiated by Aleksandr Voloshin, head of the presidential administration, who apparently reasoned that the Kremlin had to move against Skuratov before October 15, when a Moscow court will decide whether the criminal case against Skuratov is legal. Voloshin may have assumed that the regional leaders who make up Unity, the recently created pro-Kremlin bloc, could help deliver the 90 or more votes necessary to uphold Skuratov’s removal. In any case, some Kremlin officials reportedly advised against putting the question to another vote, arguing that even if the Moscow court overturns the criminal case against Skuratov, the Kremlin can appeal that decision with the Supreme Court, which would likely side with the Kremlin (Kommersant, October 14).

The upshot of all this is that Voloshin might be forced to fall on his sword and resign. Thus the rumors that Voloshin would be replaced by United Energy Systems chief Anatoly Chubais, which have been circulating for some months, now have more of a basis. Chubais headed the Kremlin administration in 1996.

None of the latest developments mean that Skuratov is completely off the hook. Even if the criminal case against him is declared illegal, another–or others–could be launched against him. Mabetex chief Bedgjet Pacolli claimed last weekend that his company had bought Skuratov fourteen suits, worth US$60,000 (ORT, October 10). Skuratov denied the charges, and said that he would sue Pacolli. Skuratov did say, however, that he received suits through the Kremlin’s property management department, headed by Pavel Borodin, which is at the center of the Swiss and Russian investigations into alleged kickbacks from Mabetex to Kremlin officials (Russian agencies, October 11).