Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 107

According to another line of thinking, the Kremlin is indeed planning to hold the scheduled June 2000 presidential vote. To this end, it has set its allies in Sergei Stepashin’s newly formed government and in other state bodies the task of establishing a monopoly over the country’s main financial flows, in order, among other things, to finance the presidential campaign of Yeltsin’s chosen successor. One recent report calculated that The Family–a term used for Yeltsin’s inner circle, which allegedly includes his daughter Tatyana Dyachenko, the tycoon Boris Berezovsky and oil baron Roman Abramovich, among others–is now effectively in control of state bodies through which some US$80 billion flow. These include the finance ministry, customs, the tax services, the pension fund, the railways and the fuel and energy ministry. The Family apparently has its eye on Gazprom, the natural gas monopoly, United Energy Systems, Russia’s electricity grid, the Central Bank and the state arms exporting agency Rosvooruzhenie (Argumenty i fakty, No. 22, June 1999).

A similar version put forward today said that Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin is the most likely candidate to be Yeltsin’s successor. The author of the article, Sergei Chugaev, added that the Kremlin will also put resources toward assuring a victory for its allies in this year’s parliamentary vote. He listed the Kremlin’s allies as Viktor Chernomyrdin’s Russia is Our Home, Yegor Gaidar’s Right Cause and Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s Liberal Democratic Party of Russia. Chugaev wrote that how things develop will depend on Yeltsin’s health. “If all is well with Yeltsin’s health, then we can expect a referendum on uniting with Belarus. If all is not well–a ‘Stepashin Is Our President’ campaign” (Komsomolskaya pravda, June 3).