Publication: Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 16

Over the weekend, leaders of the three rebellious State Duma factions continued their sharp criticism of both the Unity-KPRF alliance and acting President Vladimir Putin’s purported role in it. On January 22, Boris Nemtsov, one of SPS’ founders, said that Putin was “not an independent person” and that the situation was being controlled by Sibneft oil chief Roman Abramovich, tycoon Boris Berezovsky, Boris Yeltsin’s daughter Tatyana Dyachenko and Kremlin chief of staff Aleksandr Voloshin–in other words, the infamous Kremlin “Family” which allegedly played the dominant decisionmaking role during the last year or so of Boris Yeltsin’s rule (Russian agencies, January 22). For his part, Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky accused Putin and the Kremlin of trying to bring back “democratic centralism”–the policy employed by the Bolsheviks to stifle dissent within their own ranks and ensure party discipline (NTV, January 23).

Seleznev met yesterday with Yavlinsky, OVR leader Yevgeny Primakov, SPS leader Sergei Kirienko and reportedly offered to create three new committees whose chairmanships could be given to the three dissenting parties. Last week, Unity, the KPRF, People’s Deputy and the Agro-industrial group divvied up most of the committee chairmanships, leaving only three for the dissident factions, which refused to accept them. Seleznev warned last week that the three chairmanships would be given to the majority factions if the boycotting factions did not accept them by January 25. His offer of the three new committees was clearly an attempt at conciliation. Yavlinsky, however, poured cold water on the proposal, and People’s Deputy leader Gennady Raikov said the majority factions were also against it (Russian agencies, January 23).

At the same time, the Kremlin is apparently trying to discredit the dissenters, and to create dissent among and within them. In a January 22 interview with Russian Public Television (ORT), Boris Berezovsky, the channel’s de facto boss, alleged that Primakov, during his tenure as prime minister, had ordered surveillance of Yavlinsky and Media-Most executive Igor Malashenko, but that a top official in Russia’s special services refused to carry it out. Soon after Primakov became prime minister, Yavlinsky publicly accused his cabinet of corruption. Berezovsky also alleged that Yavlinsky, who supported one of the articles of the Duma’s failed impeachment measure against Yeltsin last year–regarding the first Chechnya war–went to the presidential administration prior to the vote and asked how many votes Yabloko should cast for the impeachment article in order to make sure it would not pass. Meanwhile ORT anchor Sergei Dorenko claimed that former Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin, who joined up with Yabloko for last December’s Duma election, was ready to split with the movement because of Yavlinsky’s refusal to negotiate an end to the parliamentary crisis (ORT, January 22). Stepashin denied having any such differences with Yavlinsky (Russian agencies, January 22).