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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Berezovsky: Lack of Strength Sunk Stepashin

Boris Berezovsky told the French daily Le Monde that former Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin was sacked for lacking the "inner strength" to fend off Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov's political machine.

"On the eve of elections, I think the president thought he lacked firmness," the oligarch and Kremlin insider said in an interview published Thursday.

Berezovsky indicated that the next head to roll may be Rem Vyakhirev, the head of Gazprom and a Luzhkov ally.

"The state is the majority shareholder in Gazprom, and it is abnormal that this potential source of financing should be used against the president and the government," he said. "I think the departure of the head of Gazprom is imminent."

Luzhkov is promoting his party's bid for December parliamentary elections with a harsh anti-Kremlin platform.

The Kremlin, in turn, is attempting to marshal support to head off Luzhkov's presumed presidential ambitions.

As part of that battle, Berezovsky has gained control of Kommersant daily.

"I have explained to the editors that from now on I have the right to explain my positions," Berezovsky was quoted as saying. "They know my opinions on the mayor of Moscow. If an article favorable to him is published in Kommersant, it simply means I wasn't convincing."