Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 167

President Yeltsin has nominated the acting chief of staff of the Russian government, Igor Shabdurasulov, to be the next general director of Russian Public Television (ORT) (Russian agencies, September 12). In theory, ORT is 51 percent state-owned. In reality, it is run by Boris Berezovsky, who provides almost all of its funding. There is a vacancy at the top because the former director, Ksenia Ponomareva, left ORT in a huff after Berezovsky went over her head to install his favorite commentator, Sergei Dorenko, as anchor of ORT’s main nightly news program, Vremya. The vitriolic Dorenko, who made his name attacking Berezovsky’s enemy Anatoly Chubais, is now using his program to boost the political prospects of Berezovsky’s latest protégé, Aleksandr Lebed (Moscow Times, September 11).

Berezovsky told Britain’s Sunday Times a week ago that, while he had once had doubts about Lebed as presidential material, he now believed that Lebed was “not the best, but a possible presidential candidate” (Sunday Times, September 6).

As for Shabdurasulov, he must feel lucky to have a job. In July, he lost his post as deputy head of the presidential staff when he told a Russian newspaper that Yeltsin should not run for a third term in office. Shabdurasulov managed to find a new post as aide to acting Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, but that job collapsed when Chernomyrdin failed to win the Duma’s endorsement. Shabdurasulov is a close friend of Yeltsin’s chief of staff Valentin Yumashev, who has himself been described as “a wholly-owned Berezovsky subsidiary.”