Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 150

It seems clear that the Kremlin–or at least the “family,” the Kremlin inner circle which includes Voloshin and the tycoon Boris Berezovsky–will try to do what it can to pry All Russia away from Fatherland, or to weaken or destroy the coalition. In this regard, the lead article in a newspaper controlled by Berezovsky openly declared that the Kremlin will use the power levers at its disposal to neutralize Luzhkov in order to “not allow a radical change of the authorities in the election” (Nezavisimaya gazeta, August 4). The article was by-lined “Nikolai Ulyanov”–a pseudonym used in 1997 for a series of articles attacking Anatoly Chubais, who was then in a battle with Berezovsky over privatization. According to some observers, the pseudonymous articles were written by Berezovsky himself. In any case, today’s article predicts that the Kremlin will step up its pressure on Vladimir Gusinsky’s Media Most holding and on Gazprom, whose head, Rem Vyakhirev is seen as being too close to Media Most (Gazprom reportedly owns up to 49 percent of the media holding) and Luzhkov. The “Nezavisimaya gazeta” article also said that at the end of August, Raf Shakirov, chief editor of “Kommersant,” along with the chief editor of the government newspaper “Rossiiskaya gazeta,” will be replaced by Kremlin loyalists. Both editors were among a group which signed an open letter criticizing the government for “pressuring” the media (see the Monitor, August 3). Earlier this year, a controlling share of Kommersant was bought by an obscure American financial group which, many observers believe, is serving as a front for Berezovsky.

Meanwhile Sergei Zverev, a former adviser to Gusinsky and Media Most who was fired this week as deputy presidential administration chief, said yesterday that the Kremlin administration has “transformed itself into a body which is in effect tearing society apart by stirring up contradictions” and accused the Kremlin of having “introduced elements of censorship.” Zverev also warned that it was “possible” that the Kremlin is contemplating canceling elections and imposing a state of emergency. Presidential spokesman Dmitry Yakushkin denied both of these measures and that the Kremlin is engaging in censorship (Russian agencies, August 3).