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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Fatherland Warns Kremlin in Letter

The confrontation between the Kremlin and the Fatherland-All Russia political bloc entered a new phase this week when the bloc's leaders published an open letter to President Boris Yeltsin, accusing his administration of isolating the president and meddling in the electoral process.

Kremlin officials immediately dismissed the letter as a "clumsy" campaign move.

In the letter, released Thursday, former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov and St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev warned of "catastrophic consequences for the people of Russia," if the presidential administration does not put a stop to "open interference" in the electoral process. (See Backpage.)

The letter's signatories said Russia is governed not by Yeltsin, but by his entourage, which has taken the state "hostage" to their interests and has isolated the president from the people.

The letter demanded that Yeltsin fire those "employees of the presidential administration who have compromised themselves" and hold a meeting with a broad spectrum of political forces and media.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Igor Shabdurasulov, first deputy head of the presidential administration, called the letter "a clumsy backtrack after a gross political mistake," referring to Primakov's rejection of an invitation to meet with Yeltsin last week.

Presidential spokesman Dmitry Yakushkin dismissed the letter Friday as a "propagandistic" tool.

"When the Kremlin's name is taken in vain, with or without reason and using the most harsh language, it brings great harm to the country," Itar-Tass quoted Yakushkin as saying.

He added that the Kremlin always occupied a special place in Russians' hearts - as Itar-Tass paraphrased his words, that it is "a sacred understanding" - and that politicians criticizing the Kremlin today may have to lead the country from it tomorrow.

The letter appears to mark a change in Primakov's approach. Primakov used to emphasize that he was not against Yeltsin and tried to placate fears that under a new regime Yeltsin and his family could be brought to trial for alleged corruption and abuses.

Boris Kagarlitsky, a research fellow at the Institute of Comparative Political Studies, said the letter was evidence that Fatherland-All Russia is panicking.

"It is either that they are panicking or they realized they will be beaten, so they should declare in advance who is guilty," Kagarlitsky said Friday.Yury Korgunyuk, an analyst with the INDEM political research center, said the letter was a typical campaign "mishap."

He said the reason it contradicted Primakov's previous statements was probably because it was the work of different members of the campaign staff.

The letter was published while Primakov was in Germany, where he marked his 70th birthday Friday.

Yeltsin sent him a congratulatory telegram that emphasized their past relations.

"For several decades I have known you as a good professional, qualified scholar and a citizen committed to his principles," Yeltsin wrote. "Your work in top state posts was given its due by the Russian public and the Russian state."