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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

The Faces Of Yeltsin's Shadowy Advisers

Of the three top Kremlin officials to fall by the wayside on President Boris Yeltsin's road to re-election, Oleg Soskovets, first deputy prime minister in charge of the industrial sector, has been singled out as the spiritual leader of the "party of war" that the trio represented.


Soskovets, 47, rose to prominence as a product of Soviet industry. A steelworker from Kazakhstan, he came to head the giant metallurgical complex where he got his start, and became deputy industry minister of Kazakhstan after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. He came to Moscow in 1992 to head the State Metallurgy Committee, and was named first deputy prime minister in April 1993.


He was a leading member of the "party of war," the circle of Yeltsin advisers advocating a military crackdown in Chechnya, along with Alexander Korzhakov, the powerful, shadowy chief of the president's security forces, also sacked Thursday.


Given a top role on Yeltsin's presidential campaign team, Soskovets faded into the background after widespread criticism of the incumbents' campaign tactics. His downfall was engineered by Anatoly Chubais, former privatization chief and bitter rival of Soskovets, who was sacked from his government position in January but joined the president's team two months later.


It was Chubais who told reporters Thursday that Soskovets was "spiritual mentor" to the more vilified Korzhakov.


If Soskovets was the senior member of the "party of war," the junior partner was Mikhail Barsukov, longtime Korzhakov crony and, since July 1995, head of the Federal Security Service, successor to the KGB.


A career soldier who spent most of that career in the Kremlin, Barsukov, 49, gained influence after the 1991 coup. After proving his loyalty as a close ally of Korzhakov and Yeltsin during Yeltsin's years in exile, Barsukov became commandant of the Kremlin and head of the Chief Security Directorate of the Russian Federation upon Yeltsin's triumphant return.


In July 1995, Yeltsin appointed Colonel General Barsukov chief of the Federal Security Service, just days before promoting Korzhakov to the rank of lieutenant general and a position of formal control over a strengthened Kremlin security structure.


Analysts deemed the reshuffle a move to consolidate allies, aggrandizing the role of a team loyal to the president and making the intelligence services more responsible to him. Barsukov was paired with Korzhakov as an influential hawk who had the president's ear.


Though not often in the public eye, Barsukov was rumored to be a ladies' man, fond of dressing well and toasting visiting dignitaries under the table. An article published in Komsomolskaya Pravda at the time of his appointment as FSB chief said he frequently accompanied Yeltsin on fishing and hunting trips, and that his wife was a close friend of the president's wife, Naina.


In January 1996, Yeltsin sent Barsukov to take personal control over ending the crisis in Pervomaiskoye, where Chechen rebel Salman Raduyev was holding some 100 hostages.


The siege ended in a government display of force, with over 150 killed, 82 hostages freed, and over 120 Chechen gunmen escaped. Both Yeltsin and Barsukov announced the operation had been a success.