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Yeltsin Election Aide Discusses Divisions in Campaign

Prague, June 25 (RFE/RL) -- The following extracts are from an interview with Igor Malashenko, chairman of Russia's private/commercial NTV television and member of president Boris Yeltsin's election campaign team. Malashenko spoke to RFE/RL June 23 on the program "Face to Face," recorded at RL's Moscow office. The interview was translated by NCA's Floriana Fossato:

The 'different teams' in Yeltsin's campaign: "There are two separate teams in president Boris Yeltsin's election team. They have diametrically opposite goals. The first team favors the maximum use of force and the minimum development of democracy in Russia. The second team strived for Yeltsin's democratic re-election and the continuation of economic reform. Both teams wanted Yeltsin to remain president after June 1996, but with the help of two absolutely different scenarios: a democratic re-election versus a presidency obtained with violent methods or with the cancellation of elections.

"The formation of the first team dates at least from the beginning of the Russian intervention in Chechnya, in December 1994. Its four leaders started the adventure in Chechnya with the goal of avoiding presidential elections in Russia.

"They hoped the intervention would create two different possibilities for the future, both in their favor. The first possibility was to have a short and victorious war, following which Yeltsin would become not only a national hero, but also Russia's superman, able to win every election. Therefore, those who organized this victory for him would have been assured to be completely beyond anyone's control and able to control everything that happens in Russia.

"The situation became critical after last December's parliamentary election. The same team stated doing everything in its power, so to convince Yeltsin that the presidential poll would have to be cancelled ... When I joined Yeltsin re-election council in March, this was an incredible organization, where half of the members wanted the poll to take place and the other half did not. But then Yeltsin took a very important decision. He realized that being the president of Russia was not enough for him. The president wants to have his place in history and he understood that a cancellation of the June poll would hamper this possibility. Therefore he started supporting the team working for his fair re-election and the continuation of reform in Russia.

"In mid-April I was asked by Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to give a short speech at a meeting of Yeltsin's election council ... My co-speaker was Korzhakov. Yeltsin chaired the meeting. Korzhakov spoke about the Russian media in general and NTV in particular, portraying us as anti-presidential to say the least. Yeltsin's reaction was very harsh. He said he would not agree to become a second Brezhnev. Yeltsin said that from that moment on he was determined to start acting in a different way and asked the same from his team members. Following the meeting, Yeltsin became again a public politician determined to win the election. After the April meeting, Yeltsin's council did not meet again, until after the first round of vote on June 16.

The events of 19 & 20th of June: "I was informed of the detention of Yeltsin campaign aides Sergey Lisovsky and Arkady Yevstafyev on Wednesday evening, while at a meeting with LogoVAZ head Boris Berezovsky. Anatoly Chubais phoned, saying his aide Yevstafyev, who was scheduled to get in touch with him, had disappeared. Then others phoned, saying the same had happened to Lisovsky. Later the Moscow head of the Federal Security Service (Trofimov) told Chubais the two had been detained. Barsukov confirmed this information. I put on alert for journalists.

"Many, as myself, reacted saying it was a large-scale provocation, part of a bigger scenario, organized by the group of people who wanted to cancel or postpone the second round of elections. They understood that after Yeltsin's advantage in the first round and his chance to win in the runoff their own sweeping powers would diminish, since Yeltin's possible victory would have been obtained thanks to methods opposite to theirs. The catalyst for their action was the appointment of general Aleksandr Lebed as Security Council Secretary. They understood their time was going and reacted in the way they considered more effective.

"Chubais wanted to meet Yeltsin and we started calling everybody who in our opinion could have helped in this ... Eventually Yeltsin and Chubais met alone in the Kremlin. I was there too, but did not take part in the meeting. In my opinion Chernomyrdin, Lebed and Chubais are those who played a key role in Yeltsin's decision to sack Korzhakov, Barsukov and Soskovets."

The media coverage of Gennady Zyuganov: "Many people are afraid of Zyuganov, especially journalists. They know very well what would happen to them personally and to their profession if Zyuganov would become president. Russian journalists, including myself, have a big problem in covering Zyuganov, because it is difficult to relate to him just as one of the existing political realities. Whenever I see Zyuganov, I cannot forget the first time I met him, in June 1992. Then a violent communist protest organized by hard-liner Viktor Ampilov was taking place around the Ostankino state television center. Protesters smashed windows, harrassed physically and verbally anybody coming in and out Ostankino, including me. Zyuganov was among the leaders of the demonstration. I just cannot forget this."