Publication: Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 157

A collateral effect of the Pushkin Square bombing is that it may have increased the likelihood Mikhail Kasyanov will be removed as prime minister and replaced by the Security Council’s Sergei Ivanov. Rumors have been circulating for some time that such a move is in the offing, and some observers believe the terrorist bombing in Moscow, by strengthening the hand of the security services, will strengthen Ivanov’s hand against influential Yeltsin-era insiders like Kasyanov (Nezavisimaya gazeta, August 11). A newspaper this week speculated that Ivanov’s supporters in the Kremlin and governmental apparatus are behind the spate of “kompromat” (compromising material), against Kasyanov which has appeared in the media in recent weeks. It was suggested that Ivanov could replace Kasyanov by the autumn–or even earlier (Versiya, August 8). One charge dogging Kasyanov concerns his alleged involvement in the reported diversion of a International Monetary Fund credit back in the summer of 1998 (see the Monitor, July 17, 21, 25, 31). In addition, Viktor Gitin, the former deputy head of the State Duma’s budget committee and a member of the Yabloko faction, has charged that people in Kasyanov’s inner circle offered him a US$500,000 bribe in return for halting his investigation into the circumstances surrounding the collapse of Russia’s banking system and currency in August 1998. Gitin, who himself has been the object of a criminal investigation, claimed this week that the IMF’s US$4.8 billion stabilization credit to Russia in July 1998 was used less for its official purpose–replenishing Russia’s hard currency reserves–than for strengthening “the hard currency positions of certain commercial banks” (Times of London, August 8; Segodnya, August 9). Both the Russian government and the IMF have repeatedly denied that the stabilization credit was misused.