While most Russian politicians and media were focused all weekend on the celebrations honoring the 200th anniversary of the poet Aleksandr Pushkin, the festivities and the summer weather in the Russian capital were not enough to divert their attention completely from the ongoing power struggles at the top.
NTV Television’s weekly new analysis program, Itogi, gathered several top editors yesterday evening to discuss the Kremlin intrigues. Raf Shakirov, editor in chief of the daily newspaper “Kommersant,” said that he expects the jockeying for position at the top to continue and intensify, adding that “a war of kompromat [compromising materials] unfortunately can be expected.” Shakirov said that his newspaper has information that kompromat has already been prepared against Mikhail Kasyanov, the new finance minister in Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin’s cabinet. Shakirov also confirmed that the tycoon Boris Berezovsky is trying to buy a controlling share in the newspaper, which has reportedly been experiencing financial problems.
It should be noted that NTV, a controlling share of which is held by Media Most, a part of Vladimir Gusinsky’s business empire, has for several weeks been charging (on “Itogi” and other news programs) that a group of Kremlin insiders–consisting of Yeltsin’s daughter Tatyana Dyachenko, Berezovsky, Sibneft oil company chief Roman Abramovich, Kremlin administration chief Aleksandr Voloshin and former Kremlin administration chief Valentin Yumashev–has been trying to gain a monopoly on Russia’s political and financial power. Gusinsky is rumored to be angry that he was unable to promote any of his allies into the Stepashin cabinet, and that he lost a key ally–Vladimir Bulgak, the former deputy premier in charge of communications, who lost his job in the ministerial shakeup which followed the firing of Yevgeny Primakov and his cabinet. “Kommersant,” which Berezovsky has apparently targeted for a hostile takeover, has been making similar charges about the Kremlin “camarilla.”
…INCLUDING PREDICTIONS ON THE 2000 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.