Kremlin palace guards at war after Yeltsin ditches his election financier

Boris Yeltsin has fired a leading member of the small clan of immensely wealthy businessmen close to the Kremlin. As Phil Reeves reports, there is now a split among his most powerful supporters. So far, it only involves words - but sticks and stones could follow.

After months of rumblings, tension within the Kremlin erupted into full view yesterday when Boris Yeltsin fired one of the tycoons who helped secure his re-election. Boris Berezovsky, one of a handful of Russian financiers who joined forces to bankroll Mr Yeltsin's campaign last year, was dismissed as deputy secretary of the Security Council, producing a rift in the ruling elite surrounding the President.

His demise was a result of a conflict with Russia's two powerful deputy prime ministers, who spearheaded the troubled transition to Western-style economics, Anatoly Chubais and Boris Nemtsov. Hours after Mr Berezovsky's dismissal, flew between the opposing camps. Mr Berezovsky accused the two ministers of "constantly trying to steer" ORT, one of Russia's leading television channels which, though formally state-owned, he controls.

He also implied Mr Yeltsin had been bamboozled into firing him, remarks which, despite Mr Yeltsin's return to health, echo last year's allegations that he is out of touch. He told Echo Moskvi radio station that the situation is "what we have been fighting against - one in which an official may enter the President's office and have any decree signed."

Mr Berezovsky's media stable includes several other leading publications - notably, the newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta and the respected magazine Ogonyuk - which seem likely to form the vanguard in a damaging media war between pro-Yeltsin factions. Mr Nemtsov applauded the firing as "absolutely right", saying Mr Berezovsky had sought to combine his government work with business activities.

From the moment he entered government, Mr Berezovsky was the source of controversy. However, although his job was widely perceived as a reward from Mr Yeltsin for his support last year, he is credited with furthering the peace deal in Chechnya.

While in government, he claimed to have suspended his business activities but tensions surfaced earlier this year when he lost out in a bid for a stake in the state telecommunications monopoly Svyazinvest - which went to a consortium which included the international financier George Soros. His outrage was duly reflected in the coverage given to the issue by his media outlets.

The issue now is whether he will turn his considerable media fire-power against the President. Yesterday Mr Berezovsky indicated the opposite, saying there was no alternative to Mr Yeltsin.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
The guide, since withdrawn, used illustrations and text to help people understand the court process (Getty)
newsMinistry of Justice gets law 'terribly wrong' in its guide to courts
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
scienceFeed someone a big omelette, and they may give twice as much, thanks to a compound in the eggs
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links