Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 11

Anticipating Yeltsin’s latest illness, Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov criticized Yeltsin on January 15 for not fulfilling his duties, saying that Russia “should have an active president” and was having “big problems” as a result. Luzhkov said that if a leader has persistent health problems which prevent him from doing his job, he must make “an appropriate decision” (Russian agencies, January 15). Luzhkov made similar comments last fall. Presidential spokesman Dmitri Yakushkin said yesterday that while Yeltsin was aware of all such comments from Russian politicians and the Duma opposition, the president “remembers” Luzhkov’s above all. Yakushkin said such comments do not enhance “stability” in Russian society.

The bad blood between Luzhkov and Yeltsin, who were formerly close allies, apparently played a role in Yeltsin’s decision last week (January 12) to put his new chief of staff, Nikolai Bordyuzha, in charge of the Kremlin’s “household affairs” directorate, headed by Pavel Borodin, a long-time ally and confidante of the president. One magazine reported today that Yeltsin’s inner circle–including his daughter, Tatyana Dyachenko, had decided to clip Borodin’s wings because of his increasingly close relations with Luzhkov. According to this version, Borodin is perhaps emerging as the second-most likely successor to Yeltsin, after Luzhkov. The Kremlin “household affairs” directorate, which Borodin runs, is made up of hundreds of businesses, along with property such as resorts, clinics, hotels, cars, dachas and even an airline company–“Rossiya,” serving government officials–along with other real estate throughout Russia and around the world. Much of the property, reportedly worth billions of dollars, previously belonged to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, but was nationalized and handed over to the Kremlin administration in 1991. In an interview aired last night, Borodin denied press reports that his directorate controlled property used by the Yeltsin family, and said it was both an “absolutely transparent” organization and “profitable” (NTV, January 17). While Borodin said the directorate is not funded out of the federal budget, and is governed by federal laws, Boris Federov, Russia’s former finance minister, said back in 1994 that maintaining the state-supported clinics, resorts and other property cost US$1 billion a year. The Kremlin is also rumored to use dachas and other property as “incentives” to change the minds of wavering Duma deputies during key votes. Last April, at the height of the battle in the Duma over the confirmation of Sergei Kirienko as prime minister, Yeltsin had said Borodin would “address the questions” of deputies following the vote (Russian agencies, January 18).