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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

WHAT THE PAPERS SAY: Surveying the Field in the Impeachment Battle

The vote on impeachment of the president in the Duma may radically change the political map of Russia. Naturally, the powers-that-be are looking for means to insure themselves against the initiation of the impeachment proceedings. ...

The State Duma's special commission on impeachment committed significant legal mistakes. This is the conclusion made by specialists of the Federal Security Service based on an analysis of documents prepared by the [FSB's] special commission. The special commission's conclusions will not have any importance at all, even if the Duma dares to officially accuse [President] Boris Yeltsin of high treason or any other serious crime, which would mean the beginning of the impeachment procedure. The Federation Council, in order to dismiss the head of state from his post, will have to confirm the legitimacy of the accusations against him by a two-thirds vote within three months. But the senators will have to wait for a verdict by the Supreme Court concerning whether crimes are indicated in the actions of the president of the Russian Federation, and for the Constitutional Court's verdict regarding whether the established order for making an accusation has been observed. And here bitter disappointment awaits the initiators of the impeachment. ...

Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov does not discount that forecasts by analysts, "about the possibility in the next week of a confrontational scenario, entailing the dismissal of Primakov's government, the dissolution of the Duma, the banning of a number of parties and pre-term elections, from which [Luzhkov's] Otechestvo [movement] will also be barred," will be confirmed.

It is possible to disregard Luzhkov's words, but they are indirectly confirmed in the Kremlin. It is believed in the [presidential] administration that if the opposition sees a Duma vote for impeachment as a success for itself, it will take "tough steps" aimed at amending the Constitution. It cannot be excluded that the Duma will try first of all to replace popular elections for the head of state with voting by electors, in whose person Russia will receive again "the congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and general secretary." On the other hand, the Kremlin is sure that the three-month period that the Duma hopes to use to protect itself from dissolution is "a quite ephemeral" trump card of the opposition, because "in any case, by mid-July the president will have the right to dissolve the Duma."

Izvestia, April 7

The Guilty Rich

A class struggle has commenced in Russia - a hunt for well-known and wealthy people. A hunt that is being conducted by left-wing forces and whose instrument is the Prosecutor General's Office, whether voluntarily or not.

Without attempting to clear or accuse anybody, let us note that these cases, which have been conjured up ahead of the April 15 vote on the president's impeachment, will sway public opinion in a most definite way by pointing once again to the "people to blame for the economic and political crisis in Russia" and "Boris Yeltsin's henchmen."

The unexpected activeness shown by the Prosecutor General's Office looks all the more strange since both [the Boris Berezovsky and Alexander Smolensky] cases, especially the one against Smolensky, concern days long gone by. ... The theory that the Alexander Smolensky case is a card in a political game launched ahead of impeachment by the left-wingers, energized by the scandal surrounding [Prosecutor General] Yury Skuratov, seems to be more plausible. It is extremely convenient to recall old, stale cases, revive them with the help of the Prosecutor General's Office and declare yet again that the persecution of Skuratov is revenge for his struggle against corruption.

This is a dangerous symptom. It means that in the near future everyone who does not live below the poverty line will be the enemy that the Communists and their ilk have been so lacking. Fortunately, there are enough rich people in Russia today. But as the joke goes, the Marxists would rather get rid of them than see that there were no poor. Presumably many more files will be found in the prosecutor general's archives that can be pulled out at the requisite moment and presented to the public.

Segodnya, April 7

Pre-Emptive Strikes

After yesterday's debates in the State Duma it becomes clear: the president does not plan to wait for April 15, when the lower chamber plans to discuss the issue of his impeachment. Nor does he plan to sit with his hands folded for the planned April 21 session of the Federation Council, at which the question of the resignation of the prosecutor general will again be considered. Boris Nikolayevich [Yeltsin] long ago proved: as soon as something touches his personal, not to mention financial interests, he always strikes first, regardless of the condition of his health. Today the next portion of kompromat will be thrown at Yury Skuratov. Murky information about dachas, apartments and automobiles will be put into play. Already yesterday, Zhirinovsky divulged information the Kremlin has saved up concerning Skuratov's four-room apartment.

But it's a dangerous business: It could unnerve Skuratov, and then the country could find out the names on the secret list of owners of Swiss bank accounts, which, according to some information, come to tens of billions of dollars.

Tribuna, April 8

Trading Heads

It is clear that a politician who has the guts to turn his plane around over the ocean does not want to depend on the will of [Communist Party leaders Gennady] Zyuganov, [Valentin] Kuptsov, or [Viktor] Ilyukhin for the rest of his life. That means that he must strengthen his own position to such an extent that he can exist without those three, while simultaneously, of course, not becoming dependent on the president. And Primakov was virtuous in playing this game. He traded Skuratov for Berezovsky, whose head it was much more important for the prime minister to see roll.

We may assert with certainty that all of the theatrics of issuing a warrant for the arrest of Berezovsky were calculated beforehand, and not only by the General Prosecutor's Office, but also by the White House and the Kremlin. As we have managed to learn, both the government and the president knew several weeks before Berezovsky's arrest order that the relevant order was already prepared and only needed to be signed.

Berezovsky himself also knew about this. But the entire political establishment is not interested in seeing Berezovsky actually arrested. He knows too much and is paying too many people.

They say that even Skuratov, the intrepid corruption fighter, used to "conduct business with Berezovsky" (of course this does not necessarily mean bribe-taking) before splitting with him, apparently in an attempt to adjust himself to the new government's likes and dislikes. When, for instance, Berezovsky was shaking the foundations of [Viktor] Chernomyrdin's government, and [Anatoly] Chubais openly told Skuratov about Aeroflot and the oligarchs acting against the state's interests, the prosecutor did not take any action at all. Therefore, the action of issuing a warrant for the arrest of both Berezovsky and Smolensky was undertaken not to arrest them, but not to let them back into this country - to isolate them from Russia.

Moskovsky Komsomolets, April 8