Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 224

Everywhere you look, Russia’s election campaign appears covered in mud. Yesterday, former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, who today heads the anti-Kremlin Fatherland-All Russia election coalition (OVR), charged that members of the Kremlin administration were behind attempts to bribe some of the coalition’s candidates into dropping out of the December 19 State Duma race (see the Monitor, December 2). Today Primakov was more specific, accusing Aleksandr Mamut, an adviser to presidential administration chief Aleksandr Voloshin, of “coordinating and organizing” the bribery attempts. Primakov said that he was answering Igor Shabdurasulov, first deputy Kremlin administration chief, who yesterday challenged Primakov to name those involved. Primakov also charged that the investigations into the Moscow police and prosecutor’s office recently launched by the federal authorities were politically motivated. Shabdurasulov responded today, calling Primakov’s accusations concerning Mamut “totally untrue” and saying that Mamut has never been a member of the presidential headquarters, but simply provided “free advice” (Russian agencies, December 3; see the Monitor, December 1).

Last October, various media hostile to the Kremlin and sympathetic to OVR alleged that Mamut, previously a top executive in Sobibank and MDM-Bank and the head of various companies, conspired with Finance Minister Mikhail Kasyanov in financial machinations and helped run an illegal money laundering scheme out of the Kremlin (see the Monitor, October 5, 11). Mamut is said to be a close associate of Roman Abramovich, the Sibneft oil company chief and a Kremlin insider.

Primakov was joined in his attack on the Kremlin today by his fellow OVR leader, Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov. Luzhkov accused the Kremlin of “covering up for those who should be held responsible for drastic economic failures, corruption, capital flight and privatization results.” Luzhkov said that the Kremlin views OVR, not the Communist Party, as its greatest challenger. “[Those in the Kremlin] got used to the Communists as they realized via the KPRF’s work in the State Duma that a deal could be reached with them,” Luzhkov said. He also characterized the Unity coalition, headed by Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu, as a purely pro-Kremlin bloc, which was set up using the Kremlin’s “administrative advantages” after attempts to split up OVR failed (Russian agencies, December 3).