New “versions” of President Boris Yeltsin’s decision to shake up his administration have been making the rounds. According to Vyacheslav Nikonov, head of the Politika Foundation, Yeltsin may have fired his chief of staff, Valentin Yumashev, because the presidential administration had been moving toward backing the new center-right coalition set up by Yegor Gaidar and Anatoly Chubais. Nikonov called Gaidar, Chubais and the other members of the new coalition–which includes former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov–“discredited politicians who have minimal support in society and do not have the levers of power at their disposal.” Nikonov said the presidential administration’s move toward the Gaidar-Chubais coalition offended Grigory Yavlinsky’s Yabloko and Viktor Chernomyrdin’s Russia is Our Home, “which have a far greater reason to consider themselves to be the center-right.” It also alienated both Moscow Mayor Luzhkov and Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, who have openly criticized the so-called Young Reformers on more than one occasion (Izvestia, December 8). Oleg Sysuev, first deputy head of the presidential administration, has joined the Gaidar-Chubais coalition. Yumashev, however, just prior to his sacking, said he would personally support Chernomyrdin’s presidential bid and that the presidential administration would not back the Gaidar-Chubais coalition.
Meanwhile, “Moskovsky komsomolets” (M-K) published an article today which speculated that Boris Berezovsky may have been an initiator, not a target, of Yeltsin’s shake-up. According to this version, Berezovsky, who was reportedly closely allied with Yumashev, decided to have him fired when Yumashev began flirting with the Gaidar-Chubais coalition. Berezovsky fears the communists, Luzhkov and even Primakov, because they might reverse the results of privatization, but at the same time fears Chubais and Gaidar, who are allied with rival oligarchs, M-K reported. Berezovsky, the newspaper added, would like to see Krasnoyarsk Governor Aleksandr Lebed as prime minister (Moskovsky komsomolets, December 9). Berezovsky reportedly helped finance Lebed’s gubernatorial race.
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