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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Struggle Played Out Over 19 Tense Hours

The drama that brought down three of Russia's most powerful political figures began Wednesday at 5 p.m. when campaign advisers Arkady Yevstafyev and Sergei Lisovsky were detained leaving the White House, allegedly with $500,000 in a cardboard box.


Yeltsin campaign chief Anatoly Chubais told reporters Thursday that he was informed of the detention within three hours.


"Within 30 minutes, Prime Minister [Viktor] Chernomyrdin was contacted, General [Alexander] Lebed and President [Boris] Yeltsin were contacted," he said. "Then events developed according to a very complicated scenario."


Yevstafyev told Russian television Thursday that he had been subjected to an 11-hour interrogation. He said the men who arrested him the previous evening asked him about the upcoming presidential run-off.


"I heard one of them say the president would win the election, but it would be thanks to 'true patriots' rather than to people who had attached themselves to him," he said.


Lisovsky told Reuters on Thursday that the charge that he and Yevstafyev had been taking money out of the White House was false. He added that the interrogators had asked him about Chubais' role in the campaign.


"My impression is that these people did not want to harm Yeltsin in any way," he said. "They seemed to feel that he was being served by the wrong people, not real patriots."


The two were freed at approximately 3 a.m. NTV issued a special bulletin at 3:30 a.m. quoting government sources as saying that an attempt was afoot to "overthrow Russia's democracy."


Lebed held a press conference at dawn, during which he said that any attempt to "drive Russia into a bloody abyss" would be put down mercilessly.


Chubais reported that Lebed attempted to contact Kremlin security chief Alexander Korzhakov and head of the Federal Security Service Mikhail Barsukov, but that they were afraid to pick up their phones.


The Security Council met at 11 a.m., Yeltsin met with Chubais at noon, and the sackings of Korzhakov, Barsukov and First deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets were announced shortly thereafter, effectively ending the power struggle.