The Russian government made haste on January 6 to dissociate itself from calls by two government ministers for emergency measures to counter the threat of terrorism from Chechnya. Government spokesman Igor Shabdurasulov said this week’s call by Interior Minister Anatoly Kulikov for preemptive strikes against Chechen strongholds, and the call by Deputy Premier Ramazan Abdulatipov that emergency powers be given to the Interior Ministry and himself, represented the ministers’ personal opinions and not the official position of the government, "much less that of the president." (Itar-Tass, January 6)
Such public disavowals were to be expected. (See yesterday’s Monitor) More remarkable was the sharp criticism of Kulikov’s proposal voiced yesterday by Russian financier Boris Berezovsky, who is believed to have business interests in the North Caucasus. Berezovsky dismissed Kulikov’s idea of preemptive strikes as irresponsible. (Russian agencies, January 7) Recently, Berezovsky had expressed support for another controversial Kulikov proposal — for the creation of an extra-constitutional economic council made up of leading financiers to advise the president. This had led to speculation about an informal alliance between Kulikov and Berezovsky to support a presidential bid in 2000 by Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov.
Signs of Gradual Improvement in Russian Economy.