Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky–who earlier this week charged that the government of Yevgeny Primakov was corrupt and that ministerial portfolios had been “bought”–told Russian Public Television (ORT) yesterday that he had personally sent Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov a series of questions pertaining to the function of the secretariats of First Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Maslyukov and Deputy Prime Minister Gennady Kulik. Maslyukov is a member of the Communist Party. Kulik belongs to the Agrarian Party. Yavlinsky, while refusing to name names when he made his charges, said they involved cabinet members from the left side of the political spectrum (see the Monitor, October 29).
Yavlinsky told ORT that Maslyukov’s secretariat had in recent months received some 300 “inquiries” from “various commercial and other structures and organizations” concerning taxes, quotas and licenses. Kulik’s secretariat had received 200 such inquiries, Yavlinsky claimed, adding that all these “inquiries” had received responses. The Yabloko leader, who said he hoped to receive an answer from Primakov in a month, said that “a government which is formed not as a kind of team, but according to the principle of selecting people representing the interests of various lobbying groups… will solve problems not to the benefit of the country as a whole, the society as a whole, but [to the benefit of] concrete individual pressure groups.” Yavlinsky said he is ready to defend his corruption charges in court. Earlier this week, Russia’s Justice Ministry said it might take the Yabloko leader to court for slandering the Russian government (Russian agencies, October 29).
Leading political lights continued to react to Yavlinsky’s charges yesterday. Deputy presidential administration chief Yevgeny Savostyanov said that he had no information that anyone had bought a post in Primakov’s cabinet, adding that the prime minister had earlier worked for Russia’s special services and “undoubtedly” had thoroughly vetted all candidates. Referring to Yavlinsky’s recent heart attack, surgery and recuperation in Germany, Savostyanov said: “He was ill and, feeling he has been forgotten, decided to make his presence felt. He has blundered and is now thinking how to recoup his mistake. To err is human, but one must be in control of what one is saying.” Savostyanov claimed to know who had told Yavlinsky about the cabinet’s alleged corruption, saying he himself had heard the accusations. No one, however, had presented a “single fact” to substantiate them. Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, meanwhile, told Moscow’s TV-6 that he was “amazed” at Yavlinsky’s charges. “The government of the Russian Federation has not been formed yet,” Luzhkov said. “There are no grounds for saying these people are entirely corrupt. All the more so since Grigory Alekseevich [Yavlinsky] was the first person to nominate Primakov” (Russian agencies, October 29).
SURVEY SUGGESTS RUSSIANS INDIFFERENT TO KOSOVO CONFLICT.