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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Stable Cleaning to Boost Yeltsin Vote

The firing of three top ministers Thursday appeared likely to boost President Boris Yeltsin's re-election campaign less than two weeks before the July 3 runoff by strengthening his appeal among disaffected democrats and supporters of Alexander Lebed.


Analysts said that democratic voters, in particular the 7.3 percent who voted for Grigory Yavlinsky in the first round, would be more likely to swing around to Yeltsin now that he had fired presidential security chief Alexander Korzhakov, Federal Security Service boss Mikhail Barsukov and deputy prime minister Oleg Soskovets, the core of the so-called "Party of War."


In addition, the crisis appeared to cement the previously fragile pact between Yeltsin and Lebed, his new Security Council secretary, strengthening the support Yeltsin can expect from the 14.5 percent of voters who backed Lebed.


"It is a tremendous victory for Yeltsin," said Michael Mc for attracting his voters."


Rival presidential candidate Gennady Zyuganov was apparently caught off guard Thursday by the news of the sackings. His Communist Party Duma faction demanded that Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin appear before the Duma on Friday "to explain what is going on in the country."


But at a press conference Thursday, Zyuganov responded to the dramatic events by attacking the confusion in Yeltsin's government.


"Feeling they have no chance to win the elections, Mr. Yeltsin and his team, under the guise of this talk about a coup d'etat, are engaged in carrying out their own creeping coups at the top," Zyuganov said. "It's a sign of the total helplessness of this team which is plagued by internal feuding."


The Communists also tried to turn attention back to the spark that set off yesterday's events: The detention by Korzhakov of two minor Yeltsin campaign advisers, who were allegedly carrying $500,000 in cash in a photocopy paper box out of the Russian White House.


Zyuganov complained Thursday that government officials "carry hard currency around in sacks, while wage debts are growing all over the country."


Zyuganov also harped on the key role played by the unpopular free market reformer and Yeltsin campaign adviser Anatoly Chubais in Thursday's events.


He referred to Chubais as the "privatization f--hrer" whose face would act like "allergic powder" on voters.


Chubais, who was the most outspoken advocate of tough free market reform in Yeltsin's government, has kept a low profile since January when Yeltsin sacked him from a ministerial job because he was a liability to his re-election campaign.


But Chubais sprang back into the public view Thursday, making numerous appearances at which he claimed that the day's events amounted to a big victory for the Yeltsin campaign, transforming Yeltsin into "a new president" whose victory over Zyuganov in the polls was now "inevitable."


However, some analysts said there is a chance that Zyuganov's allegations will stick.


If so, the news of Chubais' return and the cardboard box of a half-million U.S. dollars could outweigh the news of Korzhakov's firing. "People could possibly end up remembering only the money. That is a lot of cash and it will impress people," said Liliya Kazakova, director of the Center for International Sociological Investigations.


It seemed more likely however Yeltsin would pick up votes from the sackings, especially from Lebed supporters.


Both Zyuganov, who won 32.4 percent of the vote in the first round, and Yeltsin, who won 35.28 percent, courted the third-place Lebed.


Even after Monday, when Lebed took a job as Yeltsin's top security adviser, the Communists consoled themselves that they could undermine the importance of the alliance among voters by portraying Lebed as a sell-out who would be trapped in Kremlin intrigue.


But the Communist spin will be difficult to sustain after Thursday's events when Lebed forcefully confirmed his place on the Yeltsin team, announcing he would stop any potential coup and seeing off his main rivals.


Yeltsin was also likely to win a strong endorsement from the Yavlinsky camp. In a statement Thursday, Yavlinsky said that the firings would "definitely influence the position of Yabloko in the run-off."