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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Defeated Yeltsin Fires Chief of Staff Bordyuzha




Stung by his administration's bungled effort to remove the country's top prosecutor, President Boris Yeltsin on Friday fired the official credited with launching the campaign, Kremlin chief of staff Nikolai Bordyuzha.


The Kremlin said Bordyuzha, 49, was resigning in connection with a transfer to another post, but there was little doubt he had fallen victim to Yeltsin's ire.


The president suffered a humiliating defeat Wednesday in the battle over Prosecutor General Yury Skuratov when the Federation Council refused to accept Skuratov's resignation, which Skuratov said he had submitted under pressure from the Kremlin.


Bordyuzha, former head of the Federal Border Guards, also lost his job as chairman of the Security Council, which advises the president on a wide range of national security matters.


He had been released from the hospital Thursday after treatment for what the Kremlin said was heart trouble.


Yeltsin named Alexander Voloshin, a Kremlin deputy chief of staff, as his new chief of staff. Yeltsin was shown on television meeting with Voloshin, 43, at one of the president's suburban residences.


Bordyuzha's departure had been predicted by some political analysts after Yeltsin failed to persuade the upper house of parliament to support his effort to get rid of Skuratov. The defeat embarrassed Yeltsin and emboldened his opponents, including the Communists and Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov.


There has been speculation that Yeltsin might strike back at the Cabinet by removing Communist ministers or even Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov. But that would have precipitated a political crisis, while firing Bordyuzha limits the disruption to his staff - the one area where he can call the shots himself.


Compounding the defeat over Skuratov was the broadcast on state television of a clandestinely made videotape of a man resembling Skuratov in bed with two women, neither of them his wife.


The showing of the sex tape drew widespread criticism of the Kremlin for resorting to such tactics, although on Friday the first deputy chief of staff, Oleg Sysuyev, denied anyone in the Kremlin was behind the showing of the tape and that television officials were responsible.


Skuratov has not denied being the man in the video.


Yeltsin's prestige had already sunk in the wake of the financial crisis, and the Skuratov defeat only drove home his reduced role in politics. Much of the responsibility for day-to-day management of the economy has passed to Primakov.


On Friday, his enemies were still crowing, and putting increased pressure on the Kremlin.


Skuratov vowed to move ahead with corruption probes that could reach into the Kremlin.


Skuratov said that having received the support of the Federation Council he would now "take more decisive action in certain criminal cases connected to corruption investigation," Interfax reported.


On Tuesday, Skuratov is scheduled to meet with his Swiss counterpart, Carla Del Ponte. Interfax quoted him as saying the two would discuss allegations of corruption surrounding the Swiss construction firm Mabetex. Swiss authorities say they are investigating whether Russian officials took bribes to help the firm get contracts to renovate the Kremlin, the State Duma and the White House.


Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov stepped up his anti-Yeltsin rhetoric, saying that if the president dares to retaliate by dismissing the left-leaning Cabinet, the Communists would call their supporters into the streets.


"I don't rule out that they will next try to dispose of the government," he said. "If tomorrow Yeltsin gets handed a piece of paper and starts reshuffling the government, then it [the protest] could be the day after tomorrow."


Recent corruption allegations involving two communist Cabinet members, First Deputy Prime Minister Yury Maslyukov and Deputy Prime Minister Gennady Kulik, combined with other threatening gestures by Yeltsin, have fueled rumors of an impending shake-up in the Cabinet.