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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Parliament Seeks to Oust Yeltsin Aides

Parliament on Thursday demanded the resignation of two top presidential aides, after Russia's deputy public prosecutor told legislators that his office had substantiated allegations of corruption lodged by Vice President Alexander Rutskoi.


"A number of facts in Rutskoi's report have been confirmed", Nikolai Makarov told parliament in an extraordinary statement. He cited detailed charges against First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Shumeiko and Mikhail Poltoranin, the head of President Boris Yeltsin's Federal Information Center.


The corruption charges, which Rutskoi made against a number of top Yeltsin aides April 16, have become intensely politicized in the power struggle between Yeltsin and the legislature.


Immediately after passing a resolution demanding the removal of Shumeiko and Poltoranin by 168-2 with seven abstentions, legislators voted to draft another bill that would withdraw their representatives from Yeltsin's Constitutional Assembly.


The president is seeking to have the Assembly, which is to resume again Saturday after a recess, pass a new constitution that would eradicate the current legislature and replace it with a less hostile body.


"The new constitution must be written by clean hands", said Vladimir Ispravnikov, a senior legislator and political ally of speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov. "We must ask all deputies to drop out of the Constitutional Assembly".


In his report, Makarov said that Poltoranin had exceeded his powers in signing a deal to hand the former Soviet House of Science and Culture in Berlin back to Germany. As a result of the deal, Makarov said, Russia risked losing property worth 1 billion Deutsche marks.


Shumeiko, according to Makarov, had approved a deal organized by an official in the Moscow region that set up a company to import $14 million worth of baby food, but only $700, 000 materialized.


Also implicated in the allegations of profiteering was Defense Minister Pavel Grachev. Makarov said that funds destined for use in building houses for soldiers were instead spent on two Mercedes cars for the minister's use.


A Western lawyer based in Moscow said that by the standards of legal practice in Britain or the United States, Makarov's statement was highly unusual.


"It would be extraordinary in the United States or Britain for a prosecutor to release information from an investigation in public, or to state conclusions, before going to trial", said Alex Papachristou of the law firm White & Case.