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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yeltsin Planes Rally As Sides Trade Jibes

President Boris Yeltsin's re-election campaign took to the skies Thursday in a star-studded, five-city airplane rally, while both sides in the presidential race traded jibes over allegations of financial malfeasance by the president's campaign team.

Two sports planes covered in "Yeltsin Is Our President" banners and piloted by popular television personalities Yury Nikolayev and Leonid Yakubovich left Moscow Central Airport on Thursday morning for Nizhny Novgorod.

This mini-air parade will end up in Novokuzenetsk on July 1, with additional stops in Ufa, Kurgan, and Kemerovo. In each city the team will stage shows of Yakobovich's popular "Field of Miracles" game show, and Nikolayev's "Morning Star" program.

The air-rally is part of the "Vote or Lose" drive organized by Premier SV advertising agency and LIS'S company, both directed by Sergei Lisovsky, who has been instrumental in shaping the president's glitzy, high-energy campaign.

The shows, according to Konstantin Likutov, spokesman for Premier SV, will combine entertainment programs with pro-Yeltsin agitation.

According to Likutov, the costs of the rally will be covered mostly by the Premier SV and LIS'S, and therefore do not fall under the campaign financing restrictions imposed on presidential aspirants by the Central Election Commission.

"It is not that expensive," Likutov said. "The main stars, Nikolayev and Yakubovich, are doing the whole thing for free, just because they realize the importance of the current situation."

Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, who will face Yeltsin in the July 3 runoff election, has complained repeatedly that the Yeltsin team is flouting financing laws and benefiting from biased media coverage.

Viktor Ilyukhin, chairman of the State Duma Security Committee, raised these charges Wednesday when he unveiled to a group of journalists documents and videotapes that he claimed proved government corruption related to the Yeltsin campaign.Ilyukhin's allegations were related to the events of June 19 and 20, when two Yeltsin campaign aides, Arkady Yevstafyev and Sergei Lisovsky, were detained by security service personnel while leaving the White House, reportedly with $500,000 in cash.

The incident provoked charges by campaign chief Anatoly Chubais that the security services were attempting a coup, and led to the dismissals of three powerful Yeltsin advisers: Alexander Korzhakov, head of the Presidential Security service, Mikhail Barsukov, head of the Federal Security Service and Oleg Soskovets, First Deputy Prime Minister.

Ilyukhin presented taped testimony in which Boris Lavrov, a banker who was involved with the Yeltsin campaign, stated that he had been told by Deputy Finance Minister German Kuznetsov to take $538,000 to the White House, and give $500,000 to Arkady Yevstafyev.

"[This was] possibly state money, possibly money transferred from abroad, for the election campaign of Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin," said Ilyukhin.

Documents alleged to contain excerpts from the statements written by Lisovsky, Yevstafyev, Lavrov and others present at the time of the detention were also released.

The president's team lost no time in fighting back. Newly appointed security chief Alexander Lebed criticized Ilyukhin on Thursday for disclosing the documents.

"All tapes and materials concerning this case should be passed to the Prosecutor General's office which deals with these matters," Lebed said. He also classified the entire affair as a "provocation."

Sergei Filatov, chairman of the Yeltsin campaign committee, blamed Ilyukhin for using old communist tactics and attempting to manipulate the situation to benefit Zyuganov's campaign.

The official reaction from the Prosecutor General's Office came Thursday. According to Interfax, chief of the Prosecutor General's department, Arkady Melnikov, stated that the Prosecutor General's Office is not investigating the June 19 detention of Lisovsky and Yevstafyev.

All documents concerning the alleged smuggling of the $500,000 from the White House have now been passed to the Military Prosecutor's Office for further investigation. Premier SV spokesman Likutov declined to comment. Lisovsky's lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, insisted that Lisovsky did not have any money with him.

"Lisovsky is a very law-abiding person," Kucherena said, "And even if the documents exist they still can not be treated seriously as all formalities were violated."