Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 124

It is not entirely clear why the Luzhkov camp would want to embrace someone as controversial as Lisovsky. It may simply be that he showed himself to be effective in President Boris Yeltsin’s 1996 re-election campaign, for which Lisovsky organized a series of pro-Yeltsin rock concerts under the slogan “Vote or you’ll lose!” (Konstantin Likutov, TV Center’s new general director, also played a key role in organizing the concerts.)

But there is another dimension to this. Lisovsky, who worked closely during the 1996 campaign with Anatoly Chubais (who at that time ran Yeltsin’s re-election campaign), was one of two campaign officials caught carrying US$538,000 out of the Russian White House, the offices of the government apparatus, between the first and second rounds of the presidential vote. The ensuing scandal led to the ouster of presidential security service chief Aleksandr Korzhakov, whose men had detained Lisovsky and the money. It also suggested that huge amounts of money for the campaign–well above the US$3 million spending limit per candidate–had been raised from unorthodox sources, including, some later said, the federal budget. Even more intriguing, Lisovsky was quoted by a weekly newspaper today as saying that in the 1996 campaign, “the main money was Western.” Lisovsky, however, refused to reveal how much was spent on Yeltsin’s re-election, saying: “Ask me that question in ten years” (Novaya gazeta, June 28-July 4).

The Luzhkov camp may be using Lisovsky as a warning to the Kremlin: If you use kompromat (compromising materials) against Luzhkov, Lisovsky will spill the beans about the 1996 campaign. For Lisovsky, allying with Luzhkov may be a way to protect himself against Kremlin insider Boris Berezovsky, given that Lisovsky’s Premier SV ad agency apparently still owes the Berezovsky-controlled ORT television US$50 million.