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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tycoon Tells Yeltsin Not to Seek 3rd Term




Analysts said Berezovsky was probably reacting to Chubais' new appointment.


Billionaire businessman and politician Boris Berezovsky pushed Thursday for President Boris Yeltsin to refrain from running for the presidency a third time.


Analysts said the criticism of the president's candidacy looked like a knee-jerk reaction by Berezovsky to the return of his chief adversary, Anatoly Chubais, to the government.


Berezovsky told the Ekho Moskvy radio station Thursday "it would be healthy" for Yeltsin to announce officially that he does not intend to run in the 2000 presidential elections, Interfax reported.


"This looks like a direct challenge to the president," said Yevgeny Volk, the director of the Heritage Foundation. "Chubais' appointment will come as a major setback to Berezovsky. ... This may not be a complete withdrawal of support for the president, just a check to see what his reaction will be."


Yeltsin been careful to leave open the possibility that he will run for a third term in the year 2000, even though the constitution limits a president to two terms. Some time this year, the Constitutional Court is due to consider the legality of a third term. Yeltsin claims he was elected the first time under the old Soviet constitution.


Chubais, who was fired in a government shake-up in March, was recalled Wednesday to act as a presidential envoy with the rank of deputy prime minister to negotiate with international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund.


Western financiers have hailed the return of Chubais, who had a reputation as the toughest economic manager in the outgoing government.


Berezovsky also said Wednesday that he approved of the move.


But analysts said the tycoon, who fought an ugly war for influence in the Kremlin with Chubais for much of last year, was in all likelihood miffed. Following the government rehash in March, Berezovsky was sent into relative obscurity overseeing relations with the Commonwealth of Independent States. Chubais now appears to be in the driver's seat.


"In [Berezovsky's] present position, he is deprived of leverage in Moscow," Volk said. "Instead, it has been made available to Chubais."


But he added that Berezovsky's remarks were unlikely to rile the president, who is currently on a trip to the Kostroma region, 300 kilometers northeast of Moscow, in what some observers see as a prelude to a forthcoming election campaign.


"Yeltsin's natural reaction will be to ignore these comments," Volk said. "Berezovsky is not in an influential enough position at present for Yeltsin to take [the remarks] seriously."


Yeltsin said Thursday that he had appointed Chubais to the third government position of his political career because Russia needed "certain support and investment" to pull it through the current financial crisis.


But the opposition-dominated State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, which places the blame on Chubais for the economic hardship of the past seven years and accuses him of corruption, denounced the move and is already questioning the legitimacy of Chubais' appointment.


"The Russian people feel embittered by the appointment of Chubais," said Tatyana Astrakhankina, a Duma deputy from the Communist faction.


Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznyov said the president had the right to reappoint Chubais and Seleznyov would take the decision to the Constitutional Court if the matter was disputed.


Yeltsin said Wednesday that Chubais' position was only temporarybut added that the Duma's reaction was irrelevant. "What is more important is the state, the current situation on the world financial markets, the ruble and its rate, and respect for Russia and its commitments." Interfax quoted Yeltsin as saying.


"Some people don't like red-haired people, some people don't like fair-haired people, others don't like gray-haired people and others don't like bald people," he added. Chubais has a mop of red hair.