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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Poltoranin Says He Halted Coup Attempt in Congress

A fierce war of words between one of Boris Yeltsin's closest aides and the president's opponents in parliament took a new turn Thursday when the parliament's daily newspaper accused Mikhail Poltoranin of making allegations of a coup plot while drunk.

Rossiiskaya Gazeta was reacting to an interview published earlier this month in the Italian newspaper l'Unita in which the former deputy prime minister said that he had kept speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov from plotting a coup against the government in the weeks leading up to the December session of the Congress of People's Deputies.

In the article, which was reprinted in Rossiiskaya Gazeta, Poltoranin said that Khasbulatov had been engineering an overthrow of Yeltsin's reform government when he ordered a 5, 000-man parliamentary police force "armed to the teeth" to guard 75 government buildings.

"Khasbulatov is a Bolshevik, and I am obliged to fight him", Poltoranin told l'Unita's correspondent, Sergio Sergi.

Rossiiskaya Gazeta, which is published by the parliament, dismissed Poltoranin's accusations as drunken comments.

"Obviously, when he gave this interview, Mikhail Nikiforovich was in the same condition that the rest of Moscow was after New Year's Eve", the paper wrote. "His loose tongue, lack of responsibility, and adventurism know no bounds".

Yeltsin banned the parliamentary guard in a decree after learning of its existence in late October, one month before the Congress of People's Deputies convened. Poltoranin, who resigned under conservative pressure days before the Congress, said that he had been the one to inform Yeltsin of Khasbulatov's alleged coup plot, and that Yeltsin should have fired Security Minister Viktor Barannikov and Interior Minister Viktor Yerin for complying with the speaker.

Although no longer a member of the government, Poltoranin still remains close to the president as the head of his new Federal Information Center.

Poltoranin also said that the parliament was now planning its next attack on the president by collecting signatures to conduct a special Congress of People's Deputies session in March.