Yeltsin's Rasputin rounds on the `financial mafia'

Offering an insight into the Machiavellian intrigue of the Kremlin, the head of Boris Yeltsin's security service yesterday alleged a conspiracy by Russia's "financial mafia" to suborn senior officials, groom tame politicians and set up a corrupt puppet government.

The accusations, by Major-General Alexander Korzhakov in an interview with the weekly newspaper Argumenti i Fakti, bring into the open a struggle for political influence that the Russian media has cited as an important factor behind Mr Yeltsin's decisionto send troops into Chechnya.

General Korzhakov gave no names but seemed to target the prominent banker and businessman Vladimir Gusinsky, head of a conglomerate called Most Group. His offices in the Moscow Mayor's office were raided by armed masked men from General Korzhakov's security service on 2 December.

Most Group condemned "lying assertions of an openly insulting character", saying it would start a civil suit. It also called on the acting prosecutor general, Alexei Ilyushenko, to start criminal action in response to "threats to physically exterminate the leadership of Most Group".

A former KGB body guard often described in the media as a new Rasputin, General Korzhakov has been at Mr Yeltsin's side since 1985, standing with him on a tank in front of the Moscow White House during the 1991 putsch and organising the storming of the building in October 1993.

In the interview published yesterday he denied any political ambitions or any decisive role in policy towards Chechnya: "I say immediately - I have never engaged in politics myself and do not consider myself a career politician." But he then outlined a bizarre conspiracy theory rife with political implications and attacked "shaky liberals" who "have shown their lack of understanding of the need for decisive action in critical situations.

"The threat to society comes not from the security service but from those who tactlessly and impudently walk in downtown Moscow, guns in hand, under the very nose of the Moscow Mayor's Office, from the financial mafia "fostering a new generation of politicians" and trying to get a pocket government, from those who bribe state officials and pursue their own interests to the detriment of the interests of the Fatherland. We won't stop combating them."

Speculation that General Korzhakov had become one of Russia's most powerful figures began in earnest last month, fuelled by a letter he wrote to the Prime Minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin, telling him to drop plans to reform Russia's quota system for oil exports. General Korzhakov yesterday defended the move - totally unrelated to security - as "quite normal".

Complaints in the media of undue influence, he suggested, were part of an "orchestrated campaign" of vilification engineered by his enemies. "It has been launched by the people we know as the `goose' flock and high-ranking officials closely linked to them. Let me note that I have long had a liking for goose hunting."

The name `Gusinsky' derives from the Russian word for goose and the comment seemed a thinly disguised attack on Mr Gusinsky, named last year as Russia's richest man and widely seen as a powerful political player because of his extensive media, banking and other business interests. As well as running Most Group, Mr Gusinsky has close ties with Moscow's Mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, and the liberal leader, Grigory Yavlinsky. Both supported Mr Yeltsin but are now seen as rivals because of their own presidential ambitions ahead of the 1996 election.

One theory for Mr Yeltsin's military venture in Chechnya is that he had hoped for a quick victory to boost his flagging political fortunes and neutralise potential rivals before the election.

Mr Gusinsky also controls the independent television channel NTV and the newspaper Segodnya, both of which have enraged Kremlin hardliners with their war reporting.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
Life and Style
President Obama, one of the more enthusiastic users of the fist bump
science
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
tv
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
News
Kristen Stewart and Rupert Sanders were pictured embracing in 2012
people
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

HSE Manger - Solar

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: HSE Mana...

Data Governance Manager (Solvency II) – Contract – Up to £450 daily rate, 6 month (may go Permanent)

£350 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently looking...

Recruitment Resourcer

£18000 - £22000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Recruitment Resour...

2nd line support - Derbyshire - 6 months

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: 2nd line support - Derbyshire - 6 months...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried