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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Korzhakov to Be Questioned in Sleaze War

Moscow's political intrigues reached boiling point Thursday, as Alexander Korzhakov said he was on the point of arrest and presidential chief of staff Anatoly Chubais was accused of cutting deals to have the disgraced Kremlin security chief exposed on television.


In recent weeks, rivalry between pretenders for the robe of heir apparent to President Boris Yeltsin has given rise to a series of intrigues and sleaze campaigns in which Korzhakov, once the president's shadow and right hand man, has played a central role.


Korzhakov, who has attached himself loosely to the cause of Security Council Secretary Alexander Lebed, has promised to reveal compromising information about current top officials at "the right moment" and has quickly begun to make good on his pledge.


But on Thursday, the eve of a threatened Korzhakov press conference, the long-time KGB officer's press service issued a warning that he would be arrested in order to prevent his meeting the press.


A senior aide to Prosecutor General Yury Skuratov denied any arrest was planned, Interfax reported Thursday.


But the aide said the prosecutor's office has asked Korzhakov to provide all materials he has in connection with The Sports Fund had for some time enjoyed tax privileges that gave it an effective monopoly on alcohol and tobacco imports to Russia worth business estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars each month, making such a vast sum somewhat plausible.


Several days after the alleged extortion attempt, Fyodorov was shot and stabbed in an apparent attempted contract killing.


On Monday, ORT Russian Public Television broadcast excerpts of the same interview with Fyodorov -- an unusual example of co-operation between the two channels -- and Tarpishchev was sacked as sports minister.


On Wednesday, Fyodorov filed a charge of extortion against Korzhakov with the Prosecutor General's Office, while the Moscow prosecutor's office confirmed that it had begun a criminal investigation into the assault on Fyodorov.


Prosecutor General Skuratov also told NTV on Thursday that he would soon call Korzhakov in for "an interview" concerning the removal of materials from the archives of the presidential security service.


But as the authorities appeared to be closing in on Korzhakov on the strength of Fyodorov's allegations, an interview in Friday's edition of Izvestia charges that Fyodorov was persuaded to go on television by bitter Korzhakov rival Anatoly Chubais, Yeltsin's chief of staff, in return for political rehabilitation.


Izvestia quotes Sergei Leonyuk, the current head of the National Sports Fund, as saying that Fyodorov, after his television interview, called someone in the fund's office and said he had given the interview in agreement with Chubais.


The quid pro quo, according to Leonyuk, was that Fyodorov -- who was sacked from his job in May after being arrested for narcotics possession -- would soon return to his old spot at the National Sports Fund.


Leonyuk also told Izvestia that Fyodorov, soon after he was sacked, had threatened to kill Leonyuk and his children if Fyodorov was not restored as the fund's president.


Skuratov told NTV on Thursday that he believed the narcotics found in Fyodorov's car last May could have been planted. But that comment also did not go without challenge.


In this Byzantine battle of corruption charges, however, Fyodorov, his lucrative sports fund and attempted assassination have not been the sole focus of attention.


In a recent interview with the magazine Litsa, Korzhakov claimed that Boris Berezovsky, one of Russia's most influential backroom powers, had asked him in 1993 to murder Vladimir Gusinsky, head of the MOST-Group. Berezovsky heads the LogoVaz industrial concern and is chairman of ORT Russian Public Television's board of directors.


In the same interview, Korzhakov said Berezovsky had also wanted to kill the popular singer Iosif Kobzon and television advertising mogul Sergei Lisovsky -- one of the brains behind President Boris Yeltsin's re-election campaign.


In an interview published Thursday in Komsomolskaya Pravda, Gusinsky, however, said he doubted that Berezovsky had wanted him murdered.


In another twist, Izvestia reported Wednesday that Korzhakov's aide Streletsky had shown the newspaper a videotape back in July, in which Berezovsky accused Gusinsky of having murdered Vladislav Listyev, the television journalist who was shot death in 1995 after being named director of ORT Russian Public Television.


While all these charges surrounding Korzhakov distantly touch Russia's ambitious national security chief Lebed, because of the political alliance the two men have recently floated, Lebed has been far more taxed by charges aimed at his efforts to secure peace in Chechnya.


On Thursday, after returning from a well-received tour of NATO, Lebed threatened a response in kind, but appeared to take the moral high ground. In an editorial comment published in both The Washington Post and The Times of London, the former general said he knew who was guilty for the war in Chechnya, but would not name them.


"I am often asked if I know who is responsible for this war," he wrote. "Yes, I know all of them by name. I am also sure that this war has economic roots camouflaged in politics. Now is not the time to name these people, because chances are rather high that the war may resume with fresh force and on an even larger scale.


"First we must stop the slaughter and return to peaceful life. Then prosecutors will decide the degree of everyone's responsibility."


Lebed did, however, change the highly moderate stance he had taken toward plans for NATO expansion while in Western Europe, reverting to the tough line he had taken before leaving on his trip.


"Will NATO's eastward expansion, towards our borders, towards the Baltic republics, boost Russia's security?" Itar-Tass quoted him as saying. "Nobody can guarantee that it won't occur to someone at some time to do to us what was recently done to Iraq."


Meanwhile, an opinion poll released Thursday showed Lebed way out in front of any other national politician.


The poll by the All-Russia Center for Study of Public Opinion, which was published in the daily Segodnya, found that 40 percent of the respondents named Lebed among the five or six politicians they most trusted.


Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov came in second with 14 percent, Prime Minister Chernomyrdin had 14 percent, Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky was in fourth place with 12 percent, while President Boris Yeltsin had 11 percent.


Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov was in sixth place with 7 percent, followed by ultranationalist leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, with 5 percent.