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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

INSIDE RUSSIA: Next Victim At Top Could Be Berezovsky




Several incidents last week suggest that tycoon Boris Berezovsky is very unhappy.


The houses of two assistants to State Duma deputies were searched in St. Petersburg last week, and prosecutors demanded kompromat on former First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais. Last week, the Central Bank also refused to confirm Boris Jordan as head of MFK-Renaissance because the former head of the Russian CS First Boston did not have experience running credit institutions.


But Berezovsky's dissatisfaction was most noticeably reflected in the reaction of the news media to First Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin's announcement that 208,000 federal workers would soon be dismissed. The media cried: "They're firing doctors and teachers!"


It should be said 95 percent of doctors and teachers in Russia are paid from local budgets. This means that the Russian federal authorities can no more dismiss schoolteachers in Moscow than they can in Arkansas.


Who will really be affected by staff cuts? Above all, according to the March 6 presidential decree, it is the workers in the territorial bodies of federal services. There are 350,000 such workers in all, who will be reduced by 20 percent.


What kind of workers are these? They work for various forest, ecological and other services that for months have not received their miserly pay. How are they getting by? By using federal documents as a cover for racketeering, they extort money from organizations under their supervision.


As for doctors, only a few work for the state. For example, they work in two clinics that serve the presidential adminstration. There are also hospitals, sanatoriums and rest homes that treat a very narrow circle of executives at the taxpayers' expense and that, for an additional fee, treat New Russians. These are hospitals that receive millions of rubles from patients and millions from the state. The staff is being reduced by 3,500 people. This does not mean that they are being thrown out on the street. Rather, the state will no longer add a meager extra sum to the real wages of these people.


No one can reduce the number of teachers. Only teachers of institutes can be laid off. Everyone in Russia knows that teachers are poor and unhappy, that their wages are not paid, that they eat stale bread and so on. What is less well known, however, is that there are six students for every teacher in Russia. In the West, there are 16.


It is not surprising that the oligarchy is trying to destroy the government's plans to bring its expenditures in line with its income and to pay only state workers who are truly necessary for the country.


But what is interesting is that in the hasty maneuvering of the organizations under Berezovsky's control, one senses something more than simple displeasure; one senses fear. Yeltsin removed Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin because he felt he was too powerful: The sultan won't countenance an overly influential vizier. But, now, after Chernomyrdin's sacking, there is one more man left in Russia who is too powerful and whose dislike for compromise and maniacal desire to destroy anyone who gets in his way are just as evident to the president as they are to everybody else. And this man is Boris Berezovsky.


Yulia Latynina is a staff writer for Expert.