Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 226

Yuri Luzhkov said he approved of Yeltsin’s shake-up. “The previous administration was very closely connected to Boris Berezovsky, and in this sense the president’s decision was very useful,” stated the Moscow mayor, who is not a big fan of Berezovsky, the CIS executive secretary and one of Russia’s powerful tycoons (Russian agencies, December 7). Valentin Yumashev, the ousted administration chief, was said to have worked closely with Berezovsky. Presidential spokesman Dmitri Yakushkin, however, denied that Yumashev’s firing had any connection to Berezovsky (NTV, December 7).

In an article published today, investigative reporter Leonid Krutakov claimed that the finances of Aeroflot, Russia’s state airline, are being investigated by both the Prosecutor General’s Office and the FSB. Last year, Krutakov alleged that Berezovsky had created a system whereby Aeroflot’s cash flow, estimated at US$400 million a year, circulated through a Swiss company he controlled. Krutakov also alleged that Berezovsky had bought up 49 percent of the airline company and engineered the appointment of Yeltsin’s son-in-law, Valery Okulov, as the company’s general director. Krutakov now reports that Okulov has turned against Berezovsky, and was the initiator of the investigation into Aeroflot’s finances. Krutakov also claims that Okulov has ended all of Aeroflot’s advertising on Russian Public Television, another company Berezovsky is said to control (Moskovsky komsomolets, December 8).

Berezovsky’s own reaction to Yeltsin’s personnel shake-up was muted. The CIS executive secretary said the president’s moves were aimed at strengthening the position of the Kremlin. “The near future,” Berezovsky said, “will show how effective it is, and in what direction B. Yeltsin plans to strengthen power” (Russian agencies, December 7).