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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Berezovsky: Invitation To Trouble

By putting his friend Boris Berezovsky on the president's Security Council, Anatoly Chubais is tempting fate.


Already Wednesday, Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznyov, a leading light of the Communist Party, had demanded Chubais' resignation over the appointment.


Seleznyov doubtless has no expectation of getting his wish. But the appointment of Berezovsky -- a back-room power broker who is now a chairman of the state television company ORT -- has given Seleznyov the perfect opportunity to attack Chubais.


Probably, Seleznyov and the Communists are interested in thwarting Chubais, more than Berezovsky. The ORT chief will, to begin with, be joining the most overrated body in Russian governance, one that has rendered powerless and pushed into oblivion every secretary it has had -- from Yury Skokov to Oleg Lobov to Alexander Lebed.


As a deputy on the council, Berezovsky will hardly be an obvious threat, although the wisdom of putting him in charge of financing Chechnya's reconstruction is dubious. For Seleznyov, however, Chubais certainly is at threat.


Yeltsin's chief of staff has been on a campaign lately to centralize "power" and to stop the wrangling that has frozen policy-making for so long. And, as the centerpiece of that campaign, Chubais has masterminded the creation of new, slimline committees to coordinate "power."


One of these, the four-member "consulting council," has yet to meet but should include Seleznyov . On Wednesday, doubtless with prompting from his party in the Duma, Seleznyov made it clear he will not play ball.


Using Berezovsky's appointment as justification, Seleznyov said he will not attend the new council unless Chubais is kept off it.


The trouble for Chubais is that Seleznyov chose his excuse well. Berezovsky may operate behind the scenes, but he is notorious nonetheless and is clearly an inappropriate candidate for the Security Council. He has no known attributes to recommend him for the job.


Berezovsky recently gained fame nationwide when President Boris Yeltsin's ex-chief bodyguard, Alexander Korzhakov, said the ORT chairman had asked him to have several prominent bankers and politicians assassinated. Korzhakov did not substantiate his charges, but they have done nothing to improve Berezovsky's image.


Even legally, Berezovsky's appointment is problematic. A Constitutional Court justice has already said Berezovsky will have to give up his positions as chairman of Logovaz and of ORT in order to take a job on the Security Council. Whether or not Berezovsky complies will be an important test for Chubais.