Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 115

New details have emerged about the Kremlin’s efforts to neutralize Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov and his political movement Fatherland (Otechestvo). According to a Russian weekly, “The Family”–meaning the group of Kremlin insiders which includes, among others, President Boris Yeltsin’s daughter and adviser Tatyana Dyachenko, the tycoon Boris Berezovsky and Sibneft oil company chief Roman Abramovich–is trying to unite a number of recently formed electoral blocs into a single anti-Luzhkov, anti-Fatherland electoral movement.

The bloc–called “Rossiya”–will contest the parliamentary elections scheduled for December of this year. Among the movements the Kremlin is trying to coopt are: All Russia (Vsya Rossiya), founded by Tatarstan President Mintimer Shamiev; Voice of Russia (Golos Rossii), founded by Samara Governor Konstantin Titov; Viktor Chernomyrdin’s Russia is Our Home; New Force (Novaya sila), founded by former Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko; and Right Cause (Pravoe delo), the center-right coalition founded by reform architect Yegor Gaidar and privatization architect Anatoly Chubais, which is now formally headed by former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov.

Two key Kremlin players involved in both forming Rossiya and “neutralizing” Luzhkov are Jokhan Pollyeva, a deputy head of the Kremlin administration, and Gleb Pavlovsky, who heads a think-tank called the Effective Politics Foundation. Pollyeva is in charge of a recently created “political planning department” inside the Kremlin which is reportedly spearheading the effort to create a broad anti-Luzhkov front. Pavlovsky, a former Soviet-era dissident with a controversial reputation among other fellow former dissidents and a member of Yeltsin’s 1996 re-election team, has put the resources of his foundation behind Kirienko’s recently announced bid to challenge Luzhkov in the next Moscow mayoral contest, now set for December of this year. Pavlovsky is reportedly also in charge of a Kremlin effort to find a pretext for rescinding the licenses of two television channels seen as pro-Luzhkov–NTV, which is part of Most Bank founder Vladimir Gusinsky’s business empire, and TV-Tsentr, which is controlled by the Moscow city government.

The Kremlin-backed Rossiya bloc will reportedly be funded by such large state and quasi-state structures as the Gazprom natural gas monopoly, United Energy Systems (Russia’s electricity grid, run by Anatoly Chubais), Sberbank (the state savings bank), and Russia’s state pension fund. The bloc will get media support from Russian Public Television and TV-6, both reportedly controlled by Berezovsky, and state-run RTR television (Versiya, June 15-21).