Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 79

The Kremlin continued to issue warnings in the wake of the Federation Council’s vote in support of Yuri Skuratov, the Russian prosecutor general whom President Boris Yeltsin suspended earlier this month. An account today summarized the comments of a high-level Kremlin official, who asked that his name not be used, but whose face was featured at the top of the article with a black strip across his eyes. From the photograph, the official appeared to be Kremlin administration chief Aleksandr Voloshin, who before the April 21 vote in the Federation Council had delivered Yeltsin’s letter asking for support, and who was interrupted and even jeered while doing so.

The official warned that the Kremlin is considering firing the cabinet of Yevgeny Primakov, dissolving the State Duma–the lower house of parliament, which is planning to consider impeachment of Yeltsin in mid-May–and jailing Skuratov, who reportedly has a list of Russian notables with Swiss bank accounts (Kommersant, April 23). This scenario corresponds to an account, published earlier this month, of secret meetings in the Kremlin, at which Anatoly Chubais, Russia’s privatization tsar and current electricity chief, reportedly advocated a hard line–including firing Primakov, dissolving the Duma and even jailing Skuratov (Vlast, April 13).

The official also criticized Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov for only weakly supporting Yeltsin’s request to the Federation Council to support Skuratov’s ouster. The official expressed particular dissatisfaction with Primakov’s “Jesuitical” argument to the council members that the “struggle against corruption” would be strengthened by Skuratov’s ouster. The official also chastised Federation Council Chairman Yegor Stroev for allegedly “shelving” a secret letter from the main military prosecutor, who is investigating Skuratov’s alleged misdeeds, rather than presenting it to the council members prior to the April 21 vote, as the Kremlin had requested. Finally, the official also criticized Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who, despite recent gestures of friendship from the Kremlin, apparently voted in favor of Skuratov and then said that the Kremlin should give the suspended prosecutor a chance to carry out his investigations into high-level corruption. The official, however, said that the Kremlin does not want to burn bridges with Luzhkov (Kommersant, April 23).

Meanwhile, Oleg Sysuev, first deputy chief of the Kremlin administration, said diplomatically in a television interview yesterday that it was necessary to take “very tough actions” toward those who were trying to “rock the boat.” Sysuev said, however, that such actions must be taken strictly on the basis of the constitution and the law (NTV, April 22). It should be noted here that a legal basis could be provided for such radical steps as arresting Skuratov and banning the Communist Party, while firing Primakov and dissolving the Duma being, under certain circumstances, fully within Yeltsin’s constitutional rights. Presidential spokesman Dmitri Yakushkin, however, stressed that tough actions do not necessarily mean “extraordinary” ones (Russian agencies, April 22).