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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Korzhakov's Fall As Vital As Elections

For the first time, the tens of millions of Russia's voters who have agonized over whether they can in good conscience support Boris Yeltsin for another term as president can breathe freely. With the dismissal of the so-called Party of War, Yeltsin's house has been cleaned.

This is not merely a matter of personnel. It is news quite as important as who wins the second round of the presidential elections, because now, for the first time in the course of the election campaign, there is cause for hope -- voters are not just being given a choice between evils.

The Party of War has dominated the Kremlin, to greater or lesser extent, ever since October 1993, when they were able to save the day for the president using the methods -- extreme force -- that they understand. Since then, Yeltsin has been in their debt and to Korzhakov in particular he felt genuine gratitude.

Accepting their methods led Yeltsin to order the troops into Chechnya, to attempt to storm a hospital full of hostages in Budyonnovsk last June, and to try solving another hostage crisis at Pervomaiskoye earlier this year by killing everybody.

With these men in power, controlling access to the president, there was very little reason to hope a second Yeltsin term would be more enlightened than his first -- quite the contrary. Indeed, the only reason to vote for him was to keep the "People's Patriotic Bloc" of Gennady Zyuganov, with whom Korzhakov has far more in common than with even Yeltsin, out of the Kremlin.

Doubtless, we have not yet heard the last of Korzhakov or the Party of War. He remains "on the team." But Korzhakov's defeat is a watershed victory for the cause of democracy in Russia, quite as much as Zyuganov's would be.

Suddenly, the possibility is there to break the vicious circle of corruption and the secretive execution of unchecked power that has so hampered Russia over the past years. Moreover, a powerful opponent of the democratic principle has been dislodged.

While Chubais ran the election campaign, Korzhakov has been busy cooking up a plan 'B' with like-minded colleagues in the opposition camp that would have involved cancelling the elections and forming a "government of national trust" to rule the country. But the election results last Sunday and the acquisition of Lebed for the Yeltsin campaign have made plan 'B' redundant. Yeltsin is now the favored to win.

However he may have manipulated Wednesday night's events, Chubais has won his struggle against Korzhakov and all he represents -- mid-level ex-KGB and Party officials who neither understand, nor respect, nor wish for a democratic Russia.