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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Report: Korzhakov Holds Material to Impeach

The Kremlin's mudslinging war intensified Tuesday with a Moscow daily charging that Boris Yeltsin's former bodyguard has materials secreted abroad that could provoke impeachment proceedings against the president if made public.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported that Alexander Korzhakov, who has stated on several occasions that he possesses compromising materials on top Russian officials gathered during his 11 years at Yeltsin's side, had hidden the majority of it in a Swiss bank "in order to be made public at a certain moment and arouse a grandiose scandal in Moscow."

According to the newspaper, among these materials is a series of documents which, if made public, could lead to "the launching of the mechanism in the Russian Constitution for impeachment proceedings against the current president, with all the ensuing consequences."

"To prevent this from happening, it is possible in the immediate future that, under pressure from the Kremlin, a criminal case will be brought against General Korzhakov, with his subsequent arrest and incarceration in the Lefortovo remand prison."

The newspaper cited no sources in its report.

This is the latest round of a battle that began several months ago, as Kremlin insiders fought for control over a seriously weakened president. Korzhakov was removed in June from his post as Yeltsin's bodyguard and right-hand man, in a power play by current presidential chief of staff, Anatoly Chubais.

Earlier this month the Kremlin moved to block Korzhakov's budding alliance with now disgraced ex-security tsar Alexander Lebed by releasing kompromat, or compromising material, against Korzhakov himself.

Former head of the National Sports Fund, Boris Fyodorov, publicly claimed that Korzhakov had tried to extort $40 million from him. According to press reports, Fyodorov's charges were made with Chubais' backing.

According to an investigation published Monday by the weekly Novaya Gazeta, the sports fund, which enjoyed exemptions from import tariffs, received millions of dollars in illegal kickbacks from firms which had purchased goods overseas and imported them to Russia under fund exemptions.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta quoted an unnamed source in Korzhakov's office as saying they were planning to create an electoral structure to support Korzhakov's planned run for the State Duma seat representing the Tula region. Election to the Duma would give Korzhakov immunity from prosecution.

Korzhakov has received Lebed's blessing in his race for the deputy's seat, which had been Lebed's own before he joined the government. An ambitious, if novice, politician, Lebed did not last long in the Kremlin, and was ousted in mid-October for his lack of team spirit.

On Sunday, Yeltsin began the process of stripping Korzhakov of his military rank, signing an order that criticized him for making slanderous statements about the president and his family.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta also reported that Yevgeny Savostyanov, who is head of the presidential administration's personnel directorate under Chubais, has been trying unsuccessfully for several weeks to determine where Korzhakov secreted his materials.

According to another Russian press account on Monday, Korzhakov is probably outgunned by the Kremlin, which is determined to defeat him.

Tatyana Malkina, Kremlin correspondent for Segodnya, wrote that the presidential administration is showing no fear over Korzhakov's potential revelations, and that this suggests either that Chubais has managed to get hold of "some large-caliber 'kompromat' on Alexander Korzhakov, or ... is bluffing."

"I think that Korzhakov is not without sin himself, so if he crosses a certain line, then I think it might be used against him," said Andrei Kortunov of the Russian Science Foundation, who added that there was a possibility that Korzhakov and the Kremlin could cut a deal.

"I think that right now both sides are trying to get better bargaining positions for a compromise," he said.

"If they let him get elected to the State Duma, and he drops these charges, he might still be able to pursue his alliance with Lebed. At the same time, they will try somehow to domesticate Lebed, to make sure he has a role, but not too big a role."