Publication: Prism Volume: 5 Issue: 14

By Elena Dikun

When Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov was fired, there was a vacancy for the position of the Kremlin’s public enemy number one. But the post did not remain vacant for long–it was filled once again by Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov. The friendship between the mayor of the capital and president’s administration had lasted a mere two months or so. It began on March 25, when President Boris Yeltsin and Luzhkov met after a gap of six months. After this meeting the mayor announced that despite the efforts of certain individuals from the president’s circle, their relationship had normalized. At the time the Kremlin was afraid that Yeltsin would be impeached and that Primakov would come to power, and attempted to woo Luzhkov on its side. But after the impeachment attempt failed and Primakov was sacked, the flirtation with Luzhkov abruptly stopped. “The Kremlin’s attitude towards Luzhkov is now as it was at the height of the crisis of government in September last year. At that time, during Luzhkov confrontation with Berezovsky, who wanted to see Chernomyrdin reinstated as prime minister, Luzhkov became the presidential team’s “main enemy,” a high-ranking source from inside the Kremlin admitted frankly. But there is one difference between September 1998 and now. The Kremlin is not simply going to quietly detest Luzhkov. It is going to try and destroy him, both as the leader of Fatherland and as a presidential candidate.