Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 16

The war between Krasnoyarsk Governor Aleksandr Lebed and local power brokers reached new levels of intensity this weekend, when Lebed ordered police to cordon off the region’s television and radio company to prevent two officials whom he had fired from entering the premises. Two weeks ago, Lebed fired Konstantin Protopopov as head of the Krasnoyarsk State Television and Radio Company (KGTRK), along with KGTRK chief editor Irina Tretyakova. The two have challenged the order. On January 23 Lebed said that he had cordonned off KGTRK because he was worried that the company’s property would be stolen. Protopopov said yesterday that he will ask the prosecutor general of Krasnoyarsk Krai to impose “law and order” at KGTRK (Segodnya, January 25). Meanwhile, Mikhail Shvydkoi, the head of the All-Russian State Television and Radio Company (VGTRK), KGTRK’s parent company, said yesterday that Lebed had no legal right to dismiss Protopopov without his–Shvydkoi’s–consent. Shvydkoi said he would discuss the situation with Lebed, who was expected to arrive in Moscow today (Russian agencies, January 24).

The showdown over local television and radio was just the latest battle between Lebed and his opponents. The essence of the fight, according to many observers, is a power struggle between Lebed and Anatoly Bykov, chairman of the board of the Krasnoyarsk Aluminum Factory and a deputy in the local legislative assembly. Bykov is the krai’s most powerful businessman, and some press reports have linked him to organized crime. According to one version, Bykov, who supported Lebed in his successful bid for the Krasnoyarsk governorship last year, did so on the understanding that Lebed would help him realize his goal of creating a single energy-metallurgical corporation in the krai (NTV, January 24). While Lebed and Bykov were allies, there was very little criticism of Lebed in the krai. Indeed, last fall, Valery Zubov, whom Lebed unseated last year as Krasnoyarsk governor, told a newspaper that Lebed faced no organized opposition because it was hazardous to one’s health to cross Bykov (Vremya MN, January 25). According to this version, the war between Lebed and Bykov began late last year, after Lebed reneged on his understanding with Bykov and tried to get management control over the federal government’s controlling share of Krasugol, the region’s coal holding company.