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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kasyanov Under Fire From All Sides

Former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov and influential lawmaker Vladimir Yudin both took shots at Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov on Tuesday, with the latter hinting darkly that Kasyanov may soon be investigated for corruption.

"Where there is smoke, there is fire," Yudin warned, news agencies reported. The lawmaker, whose complaints to prosecutors officially set the legal assault on Yukos into motion earlier this year, said Kasyanov should take the blame for giving free rein to the oligarchs.

Yudin, the deputy head of the Duma's economic policy and entrepreneurship committee, said Kasyanov had turned a blind eye to tax evasion by big business and that he "has to be held responsible for this."

Agence France-Presse reported that Yudin hinted that he may at one point produce evidence that Kasyanov, who criticized prosecutors for their handling of the Yukos case despite warnings from the Kremlin not to do so, was himself embroiled in corruption.

He also renewed his call for prosecutors to turn their attention to the privatization of Sibneft, Yukos' merger partner. Dow Jones quoted a spokeswoman for the Prosecutor General's Office as saying a decision on whether to investigate that deal will be made within a week.

Meanwhile, across town, Primakov attacked the way the government has behaved under Kasyanov, who lost his most powerful ally with the resignation last week of Kremlin chief of staff Alexander Voloshin.

In an interview with Ekho Moskvy radio, the former KGB chief and Politburo candidate lambasted Kasyanov's government while hailing Voloshin's departure.

"Voloshin's main personal function was to link the oligarchs with the top echelons of power," he said. "Oligarchs should pay taxes honestly, not try to force their way into power and corrupt society."

He said Voloshin should have acted to prevent the oligarchs from "deviating from the rules." In the end, however, "he was not a mediator, but a part of the oligarchy himself because he let them do what they wanted," he said.

Primakov called on the country to rally around President Vladimir Putin, saying political power should revolve around Putin and not the members of his administration, referring to Voloshin.

"The lack of administrative discipline worries me," he said. "I don't want to use this analogy, but can you imagine what would happen if [government officials] ignored the orders of the Politburo?"

With Voloshin out and former Yukos chief Mikhail Khodorkovsky behind bars, Kasyanov's only hope of political survival now lies with President Vladimir Putin, said Kremlin-connected political analyst Sergei Markov.

"Kasyanov, who is a political captain of oligarchs, has lost a powerful ally in Voloshin and has become the main target for attacks. If the president does not protect him, he will just be swept away," Markov said.

Primakov spared no quarter for Khodorkovsky, either, saying that a significant number of Duma deputies and senators "are lobbying laws and amendments on behalf of the oligarchs."

"It is absolutely clear how the Khodorkovsky case appeared," he said. Of all the oligarchs, "Khodorkovsky involved himself the most" in politics.