Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 108

While some of the reporting concerning The Family has clearly not been motivated solely by journalistic considerations, it is also clear that the Kremlin is taking direct control of the main levers of state financial power. This state of affairs seems to suit some, including privatization architect Anatoly Chubais, who in the end managed to get some of his allies appointed to the cabinet. During a press conference yesterday in Yekaterinburg, Chubais–who now heads United Energy Systems–praised Yeltsin’s recent actions, saying the president had made a “risky but very competent maneuver” first in picking a “political” government (Primakov’s) following last August’s crisis and then replacing it with a “professional” one (Stepashin’s). Chubais said he believes that the new government has a “good future” and insisted that it was picked not by “oligarchs,” but by Yeltsin himself. Chubais said that Yeltsin had yet again demonstrated his ability to “mobilize” in difficult situations, and that the president was in full possession of his faculties. Asked by reporters about the fact that some members of Right Cause, the center-right coalition of which Chubais is a top member, view Stepashin’s government in a negative light, Chubais answered that the coalition will “support” the government while not considering “its own” (Russian agencies, June 3).

Another leading Russian figure gave his assessment of the Stepashin government yesterday. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said that it is “not yet clear whether Stepashin controls his government, whether he will be given enough power or whether he will be blocked at every turn.” The Nobel Prize-winning writer said that his view of the previous Primakov government was “exceptionally positive,” calling it “the first normal government in eight years” that “slowly began to pull the country out of the abyss.” Primakov’s dismissal, Solzhenitsyn said, was due to “intrigue-mongering schemes” and a “crime.” “There’s somebody behind the scenes here today who is doing something absolutely uncontrolled with our government and with the entire course of life,” he said, adding that Russia’s present political system was barring “Russia’s path toward development” and pushing to disintegration.

Solzhenitsyn repeated his critique of two years ago, saying that Russia has “no democracy,” but is instead ruled by an “oligarchy” consisting of “some 200 top members of the executive, legislative and judicial branches, and financial tycoons” (Russian agencies, June 2).