Aleksandr Korzhakov continues to make headlines in the Russian media. Once President Yeltsin’s closest confidant and reputed drinking buddy, the former head of the Presidential Security Service was ignominiously sacked in June. Now, rumors of a new alliance with Kremlin security chief Aleksandr Lebed, originally dismissed as lurid speculation, have been confirmed by both men. (Komsomolskaya pravda, September 24; Izvestiya, September 26; Kommersant-daily, September 28) What brings them together? First, a shared desire for power. Lebed makes no secret of his desire to be Russia’s next president. Korzhakov has more modest ambitions: he wants to run for the Duma in the Tula constituency vacated when Lebed moved from parliament to the Kremlin. Second, a shared hatred of Yeltsin’s chief-of-staff, Anatoly Chubais. Chubais was instrumental in Korzhakov’s ouster, while Lebed sees him as the main obstacle to his presidential ambitions. Third, neither man any longer feels any personal loyalty to Yeltsin. The alliance makes sense of reports received in June that it was Korzhakov who brought Lebed onto the Yeltsin team after Lebed won 15 percent of the vote in the first round of the presidential election. Lebed’s call to his voters to switch their votes to Yeltsin helped the president to win the second round.
What can each man do for the other? Korzhakov wants to get back into the corridors of power. He has hinted that he could give Lebed information on the corrupt dealings and secret bank accounts of Kremlin leaders that would be invaluable ammunition for Lebed in an election campaign. Former Yeltsin aide Sergei Filatov has confirmed that Korzhakov’s security service kept the presidential staff under constant surveillance. If Lebed is to become president, he will need more than the high media profile and popular support that at present are his trump cards. He will certainly need finance. The Russian media are now speculating that this is where Korzhakov’s help could be crucial. Korzhakov’s connections with the secretive arms trading company Rosvooruzheniye, reputed to be highly profitable, has been identified as a potential source of campaign funding for Lebed. (NTV, September 29) Lebed looked wet behind the ears when he arrived in the Kremlin in June but he has since displayed not only a ruthless ambition but a remarkable ability to learn. As he said this week in another context: "Nobody ever gives anyone power. You have to take it" (Interfax, October 1)
Yeltsin Orders Examination of Army’s Financial Woes.