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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Controversial Kulikov Will Be Missed by Few




Few tears will be shed over Anatoly Kulikov, the hawkish interior minister fired Monday by President Boris Yeltsin after nearly three controversial years as Russia's top cop.


Since his appointment in June 1995, Kulikov has alienated human rights activists and Chechen separatists with his brutal suppression of unrest in the republic. And with his policy of pouring resources into his alma mater, the Interior Ministry troops, at the expense of other units, he incurred the enmity of many of the police serving under him.


Yeltsin immediately named a replacement for Kulikov, appointing Pavel Maslov, Kulikov's deputy and chief of the Interior Ministry staff.


After hearing of his dismissal Monday, Kulikov, 51, convened his deputies for a five minute meeting and thanked them for serving under him.


Kulikov made many of his most bitter enemies even before becoming Russia's police chief.


As commander of the Interior Ministry troops in Chechnya from November 1995, Kulikov oversaw some of the most brutal and destructive fighting of the 21-month war. In August 1996, Kulikov's inertia was widely blamed for the federal troops' humiliating defeat and their forced withdrawal from the Chechen capital, Grozny.


"Unfortunately, yes, the war is over," the laconic Kulikov was quoted as saying prior to a formal peace settlement the Kremlin clinched with the breakaway republic in 1996.


And even a year on from the peace settlement, he still tried to resume Russia's abortive military campaign, calling for "pre-emptive strikes" to be carried out against Chechen separatists.


Chechen president Aslan Maskhadov was among the first to welcome Kulikov's dismissal Monday. Kulikov "made every effort to restart the war, threatening to deliver missile strikes on Chechnya ... even though he was very well aware that this would cause the Chechen people to retaliate."


Kulikov's lust for power inside the Kremlin also won him a few friends. In January 1997, he was given overall responsibility for the tax police, customs and all agencies dealing with economic crimes and taxation, creating anxiety among Cabinet ministers who felt Kulikov was challenging their power.