Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 44

In the midst of media attention on the current government, Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov angrily declared: The Primakov government is “the result of a fragile agreement, and we will not allow Primakov, vacationing in Sochi, to share the fate of Gorbachev, who was vacationing in Foros.” Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was in Foros during the August 1991 abortive coup.

Zyuganov also lashed out at several recent articles in “Nezavisimaya gazeta”–a paper reportedly controlled by CIS Executive Secretary Boris Berezovsky–which, citing official documents, accused Maslyukov of corruption. Zyuganov charged today that the “criminal group headed by Berezovsky is inflaming hysteria because it is afraid to answer for what is going on in the country.” He said the press campaign against the Primakov government is an attempt “to throw the country into the bloody meat grinder of 1993”–a reference to the October 1993 clash between the opposition-led parliament and the Kremlin, which led to an armed confrontation. Zyuganov said he was planning to meet today with Kremlin administration chief Nikolai Bordyuzha (Russian agencies, March 4). Earlier this week, Bordyuzha ordered the Security Council, which he also chairs, to look into the “Nezavisimaya gazeta” charges.

Gennady Seleznev, speaker of the State Duma and a top KPRF official, charged today that the media campaign against the Primakov government is being carried out by “oligarchs who have seized power on television.” Berezovsky is said to control Russian Public Television (ORT), while Vladimir Gusinsky, founder of Most Bank and head of Media Most, controls Independent Television (NTV) (Russian agencies, March 4).

Zyuganov’s and Seleznev’s angry and somewhat panicked reactions–taken with the comments of government critics like Boris Federov–would suggest that the Kremlin is indeed planning a government shake-up.

Meanwhile, one of the “oligarchs” who apparently threw his lot in with the Primakov government appears to be in trouble. Igor Kozhevnkov, a deputy interior minister who heads the ministry’s investigative committee, said today that Vladimir Smolensky, the head of SBS-Agro bank, has been charged with stealing US$32 billion and will face trial (Russian agencies, November 4). Last week, “Novae izvestia” reported that the Primakov government has bailed out SBS-Agro with “stabilization” credits, and that Deputy Prime Minister Gennady Kulik sits on the banks board of directors. “Novae izvestia” is part of Berezovsky’s media empire. Last year, SBS-Agro announced it would back Kulik’s Agrarian Party in the next parliamentary elections, scheduled for later this year.