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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ex-Border Guard Chief Blasts Kremlin




Andrei Nikolayev, the former chief of Russia's State Border Service who has now turned into a professional politician, made a bitter attack on President Boris Yeltsin and his government Wednesday.


"Controlled paralysis," was how Nikolayev repeatedly described the actions of his former boss and the government at a Moscow news conference.


Political analysts said Nikolayev's performance was a sign that he and his powerful patron Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov are already campaigning for elections next year.


Nikolayev has been increasingly critical of the federal government, attacking it for failing to pay wages to striking coal miners and for driving the country into debt to foreigners. These comments echo statements made by Luzhkov.


On Wednesday, Nikolayev attacked the government for taking billions of dollars in loans from the International Monetary Fund, which, he said, wants to prop up the ruble at the expense of economic growth.


Nikolayev also called on Yeltsin to reverse the tax increases that he has decreed as part of a program to reduce the federal government's budget deficit.


One cannot keep on "squeezing yet another drop of milk from a scraggy cow," Nikolayev warned his former commander in chief.


Nikolayev, who resigned from his military post last December and was elected as a deputy to the State Duma, or lower house of parliament, in April, has until recently been careful not to fire directly at his former superiors.


But having won the support of Luzhkov and set up his own political movement, the Union of People's Power and Labor, the former military man has started to attack the Kremlin and the White House.


Maxim Balytenko, of the Panorama research center, said criticizing the government is the only way an aspiring politician can become a heavyweight in Russia.


In his verbal offensives, the high-flying general said that only 10 percent of Russians now trust the government.


Nikolayev gave little chance in future presidential or parliamentary elections to most opposition parties or politicians, who he said were regarded as part of the hated status quo.


But Nikolayev predicted big things for his own nascent movement and for Luzhkov, whom he regularly describes as a "close ally on all strategic questions."


Nikolayev said his movement, which was founded by 241 delegates from 88 regions only two weeks ago, will expand in the next year to win the support of a majority of Russian voters at the expense of more radical movements.


While he said he had no plans to run for a regional governorship himself, Nikolayev instead promised to back a possible Luzhkov campaign for president.


The mayor has so far refused to confirm reports of his presidential ambitions, but he is tipped to become one of the strongest contestants in 2000.


Yevgeny Volk, an analyst with the Heritage Foundation study center, said Nikolayev's movement will flourish only if Russia's business and industrial tycoons decide to throw their financial and mass media resources behind Luzhkov's presidential bid.