Yeltsin’s meeting yesterday with Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky followed media reports this week that the president, or at least his inner circle, is working up various plans to “neutralize” Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov. One Russian weekly magazine reported that the Kremlin was working on a plan under which “liberals named by the Kremlin will really run the economy, and the premier will have to provide political cover” (Itogi, March 9). A Russian newspaper, meanwhile, laid out a similar scenario, in which Primakov’s entire cabinet would be removed and replaced by luminaries from various liberal parties and movements, including former prime ministers Sergei Kirienko and Yegor Gaidar, former finance minister and tax chief Boris Fedorov, Anatoly Chubais, Yavlinsky and possibly even Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who would apparently be used to try and assuage the State Duma’s leftist majority. The paper also reported, however, that one group of “oligarchs” closely connected to the Kremlin inner circle simply want to arrange Primakov’s “voluntary” resignation and his replacement with “a mediocre and obedient little tyrant who will, for starters, cancel any elections in view of the threat of economic catastrophe” (Vremya-MN, March 11).
A Russian weekly, for its part, reported that the Kremlin is not seeking to replace the Primakov cabinet, but simply to “widen” contacts between Primakov and leading “liberals,” including former Economics Minister Yevgeny Yasin and former presidential economics adviser Aleksandr Livshits. In this scenario, the Kremlin administration would also begin providing Primakov with “objective information” to counter that which he receives from Maslyukov and Kulik (Obshchaya gazeta, March 11-17).
While the scenarios may differ, the proliferation of such reports, all based on Kremlin leaks, combined with Yeltsin’s meeting with Yavlinsky, suggests the Kremlin has made the task of neutralizing Primakov a top priority.
RELEASE OF DAGESTANI MUTINEER MAY BE CONNECTED TO SHPIGUN KIDNAPPING.