Gorbachev was 'planning coup'

Click to follow
MOSCOW - The Russian government, justifying its eviction of Mikhail Gorbachev from his Moscow offices, yesterday accused the former Soviet president of misusing state property and trying to turn his think-tank into a 'Bolshevist centre' ready to launch another coup attempt, writes Andrew Higgins.

The accusations were made by the Information Minister and Vice-Premier, Mikhail Poltoranin, a close colleague of President Boris Yeltsin and one of the government's most belligerant foes of the now banned Communist Party.

Interfax news agency quoted him as saying Mr Gorbachev had tried to copy Lenin's revolutionary tactics by establishing 'a Bolshevist centre from which he can decide when to give the order . . . to carry out another coup'.

Mr Poltoranin offered no evidence to prove any conspiracy by Mr Gorbachev to overthrow the government but the charges will probably play well with a public that believes, again without evidence, that the former Kremlin leader somehow masterminded last year's failed putsch by hardline communists.

The Vice-Premier struck a second theme that will also appeal to a population that has little sympathy and much dislike for Mr Gorbachev. According to Mr Poltoranin, the Finance Ministry's Auditing Department had investigated Mr Gorbachev's research foundation and found it guilty of misusing its premises.

Mr Gorbachev had been allowed use a spacious former party building to house his Gorbachev Foundation since last December as part of a retirement settlement with President Yeltsin. The Auditing Department now accuses him of using it to make a profit through sub-lets to businessmen.