President Boris Yeltsin brushed aside reports of an alleged plot to assassinate First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais with a comment that Belarusan president Alyaksandr Lukashenka also claims people are trying to assassinate him. (Russian TV, September 15) The Russian media also reacted skeptically: newspapers such as Izvestia, which are in the Chubais camp, gave the rumors slightly more credibility than those in the opposing camp, such as Nezavisimaya gazeta, which suggested that Chubais concocted the rumors himself in an effort to drum up public sympathy. Several newspapers managed to express doubts about the authenticity of the rumors while at the same time identifying the company Nizhnevartovskneftigaz (NNG) as the one that supposedly took out the contract on Chubais’ life. A tug-of-war has been going on for over two months for control of NNG between the Alfa Group, which last July bought 40 percent of the shares of Tyumen Oil Company (TNK), of which NNG is the major constituent part. The sale was strongly resisted by NNG’s current chairman, Viktor Paly. Both sides in the dispute appealed to leading government members for support and Chubais reportedly took Alfa’s side. NNG is said to have debts of 3 trillion rubles, of which over one trillion are overdue federal taxes. Chubais allegedly threatened to bankrupt the company unless Paly stood down to allow a takeover by Alfa-Bank. (Kommersant-daily, Komsomolskaya pravda, Nezavisimaya gazeta, September 16)
Kremlin Says Primakov to Stay.