Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yeltsin Aide Defends Firing

A senior Yeltsin aide said Friday that President Boris Yeltsin had been pressured into firing Security Minister Viktor Barannikov, and that if parliament tried to reinstate him at a special session which opens Saturday, the action would be "illegal and unconstitutional".

Sergei Yushenkov, first deputy chairman of the Federal Information Center, said at a news conference that Yeltsin was impelled to fire Barannikov after he led the ministry to "join the conservative faction of the Supreme Soviet, the Public Prosecutor's Office, and in fact began to put obstacles in the way of carrying out economic reform".

Yushenkov said Yeltsin had been reluctant to fire Barannikov but had relented after a group of deputies from three democratic parties who had lobbied him into signing the decree calling for his dismissal.

"A year ago Yeltsin saw Barannikov as the man to reorganize the Security Ministry and turn it into an organization that really represents the country's security", Yushenkov said, adding that the minister had failed to carry out this reform process.

"The dismissal of a leader of such a rank, especially if it is a matter of the Security Ministry, does not add to stability in society", he said. "But keeping Viktor Barannikov in this position would further destabilize society".

Yushenkov said Yeltsin had taken a file on Barannikov, prepared by the democratic faction, on vacation with him and had promised to reach a decision about whether or not to sack the minister upon arrival back in Moscow on Monday.

On Tuesday, Barannikov was officially fired for a breach of ethics and for failing to repel rebel attacks at the Tajik-Afghan border, which resulted in the death of 25 Russian border guards.

Yushenkov said the security minister had participated in an ongoing investigation against senior Yeltsin officials, First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Shumeiko and head of the Federal Information Center, Mikhail Poltoranin, who have both had corruption charges filed against them. He said he could back up the claim with documents.

Poltoranin was interviewed by prosecutors armed with a search warrant last week in an attempt to substantiate accusations that the former minister and close Yeltsin aide had acted improperly in a post-Soviet property deal.

Yushenkov claimed that the Security Ministry had aided in the investigation by tapping phones and coordinating the search. Security ministry officials were present at the time of the search.

Yushenkov noted the irony of Parliament Speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov's support for Barannikov saying that a year ago the speaker himself had asked for Barannikov's dismissal.