The Duma is expected to reject Viktor Chernomyrdin’s candidacy when it debates it for the second time on September 7. Members of Chernomyrdin’s camp are loudly warning the Duma that, if it rejects Chernomyrdin’s candidacy for a third time a week later–on September 14–President Yeltsin will dissolve the parliament.
Financier Boris Berezovsky warned the Duma in a TV interview on Monday that it will be dissolved if it refuses to endorse Chernomyrdin’s candidacy. (ORT, August 31) Berezovsky is credited with the key role in pressuring Yeltsin’s chief-of-staff Valentin Yumashev and younger daughter Tatyana Dyachenko into persuading Yeltsin to fire Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko last month and re-appoint Chernomyrdin. (Dyachenko is said to be indebted to Berezovsky for extravagant gifts and for his funding of her father’s 1996 reelection, while Yumashev is, according to Time magazine, a “wholly privatized Berezovsky subsidiary.” [Time, September 7])
Berezovsky’s game plan is believed to be to persuade Yeltsin to stand down in favor of Chernomyrdin, paving the way for early presidential elections in which Chernomyrdin would run with the support of another Berezovsky protege, Krasnoyarsk Governor Aleksandr Lebed. Chernomyrdin is seen by Berezovsky and fellow financial barons as a safe pair of hands protecting them from ex-premier Sergei Kirienko’s ineffectual efforts to bring them to heel. “They almost succeeded [in persuading Yeltsin to resign] in July, but [Boris] Nemtsov and [Anatoly] Chubais were able to stop it,” Time reports. Dyachenko is said to be particularly concerned about the possibility that the Yeltsin family might face criminal prosecution once her father leaves office. (Time Magazine, September 7)
The Duma got a similar warning yesterday from the Deputy Speaker of the Duma, Vladimir Ryzhkov, who said parliament would be dissolved on September 14 if it refused to endorse Chernomyrdin. (Ekho Moskvy, September 1) Ryzhkov has an ax to grind: He is a member of Russia is Our Home, the movement Chernomyrdin leads. Ryzhkov went on yesterday to accuse the opposition of being determined to “finish off the [Yeltsin] regime within the next month or two.” But, if Time’s report on Berezovsky’s intentions is accurate, Berezovsky and his fellow-financiers are even more determined than the Communist-dominated Duma to see Yeltsin leave office early and hand the reins over to oligarch-friendly Chernomyrdin.
As for Yeltsin, he minced no words yesterday, telling Russian Television he would not dissolve parliament “if they behave themselves.” (RTR, September 1)
CHERNOMYRDIN DRAWS UP NEW CABINET.