Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 118

Widely differing interpretations are circulating in Moscow over yesterday’s dramatic events in Moscow, which saw President Boris Yeltsin sack three of his closest aides. For public consumption, the events were presented by Yeltsin campaign organizer Anatoly Chubais as a titanic struggle between the forces of democracy and repression. In numerous television interviews and press conferences, a jubilant Chubais said Yeltsin’s said that the dismissal of top bodyguard Aleksandr Korzhakov, security chief Mikhail Barsukov, and First Deputy Premier Oleg Soskovets had ensured that there would be "no putsch" in Russia and that the second round of the presidential elections would go ahead peacefully. Chubais, who in January lost his job as first deputy premier partly because of conflicts with the hard-line Soskovets, and who replaced Soskovets in March as mastermind of Yeltsin’s reelection campaign, said the three men sacked yesterday were engaged in a plan to cancel the second round of the elections. Their aim was to put Yeltsin in a position where he was obliged to rule by force, and thus be more dependent upon them, Chubais asserted. (Western agencies, Russian Television, June 20)

Other interpretations were more cynical. Interviewed by the BBC, Yeltsin campaign strategist Vyacheslav Nikonov depicted the events of the past 36 hours as a power struggle between individuals and factions within the Kremlin elite. He agreed that the three ousted men wanted to see the cancellation of the elections but argued that they were mainly motivated by fear and resentment of the increased influence of Yeltsin’s new security supremo, Aleksandr Lebed. (BBC, June 20)

Other commentators suggested that the June 19 arrest of the two Yeltsin campaign aides that sparked the events might even have been staged by Lebed himself in a preemptive strike against his rivals.

Yavlinsky Reserves Judgment.