Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 56

On March 19 President Boris Yeltsin fired Nikolai Bordyuzha as his chief of staff and secretary of the Security Council. The Kremlin’s statement [announcing Bordyuzha’s removal as head of the Kremlin administration] said the step was taken “in connection with a transfer to other work” (Russian agencies, March 19). This is a standard formulation, and few doubt the real reason for Bordyuzha’s removal is that Yeltsin blames him for the Federation Council’s vote last week not to accept the resignation of Yuri Skuratov as prosecutor general. According to Russian press reports, Bordyuzha was the Kremlin official who warned Skuratov that if he did not step down, a video allegedly showing the prosecutor general in a compromising situation with two prostitutes would be made public. That video was reportedly distributed to the Federation Council prior to last week’s vote. Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, during a visit to St. Petersburg on March 20, said he believed that the Bordyuzha ouster was linked to “a failed blackmail of Russian Prosecutor General Yuri Skuratov,” adding that the realization that the presidential administration should be headed by a civilian had also been a factor in the dismissal. Bordyuzha was a veteran of Russia’s special services and holds the rank of general. Luzhkov said Bordyuzha had made “a serious mistake with regard to Skuratov” (Russian agencies, March 20).

Bordyuzha was replaced by Aleksandr Voloshin, a deputy chief of the presidential administration in charge of economic issues. According to several press reports released over the weekend, Yeltsin’s attention came to rest on Voloshin because the two had met several times recently concerning Yeltsin’s annual speech to parliament, whose economic section Voloshin has reportedly written. Last night, Nikolai Svanidze, host of the weekly news program “Zerkalo,” broadcast by RTR, the state-run television, described Voloshin, approvingly, as an economic “liberal” (RTR, March 21). On the other hand, some media noted that prior to entering the Kremlin administration, Voloshin worked jointly with the tycoon Boris Berezovsky in creating the All-Russian Automobile Alliance (AVVA). Beginning in 1993, AVVA announced plans to create a “people’s” car for Russians, raised some US$50 million from investors but never produced either a car or returns on the investments.

One newspaper wrote that Voloshin was viewed “until recently” as “a creature” of Valentin Yumashev, the former Kremlin chief of staff still widely seen as a key Kremlin insider and as being close to Tatyana Dyachenko, Yeltsin’s daughter and adviser. The paper also reported that Voloshin wrote the economic program which Aleksandr Lebed used during his campaign for the Krasnoyarsk governorship (Kommersant daily, March 20). Berezovsky was widely reported to have backed Lebed’s successful gubernatorial run. On the other hand, several newspapers wrote today that Voloshin should not be seen as a creature of Berezovsky (Moskovsky komsomolets, Vremya-MN, March 22). These reports may represent a Kremlin spin, given that businesses believed to be controlled by Berezovsky were raided by law enforcement agencies earlier this year in connection with various criminal cases.