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Russia: Opposition Blasts Berezovsky Appointment

Moscow, 30 October 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Russian opposition leaders lined up today to denounce the appointment of entrepreneur and media magnate Boris Berezovsky as Security Council deputy secretary.

Reformist and Communist leaders, in a rare show of unity, lashed out at presidential chief-of-staff Anatoly Chubais, accusing him of of engineering Berezovsky's appointment.

Berezovsky, who heads one of Russia's largest car dealerships, LogoVAZ, as well as its largest television network, ORT Channel One, has never held a government or security post. But he was a major backer of Yeltsin's re-election campaign this summer.

Economist Grigory Yavlinsky, who heads parliament's reformist Yabloko faction, called Berezovsky's appointment "scandalous incompetence" which "discredits the authorities." He said the move was "symptomatic of Chubais."

Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov branded Berezovsky's appointment "ridiculous and insulting." He said Chubais was "exercising powers which don't belong to him" while President Boris Yeltsin prepares for his heart operation.

Earlier today, Duma speaker Gennady Seleznyov called for Chubais's removal, saying he would boycott a new, four-man council comprised of the president, prime minister and heads of parliament. Chubais is to represent Yeltsin in the council until the president recuperates.

Yeltsin spokesman Sergei Yastrzembsky called on Seleznyov not to interfere in government appointments. The Interfax news agency quoted Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin as saying that he saw "nothing extraordinary" about Berezovsky's appointment to the Security Council.

Meanwhile, the press service of President Boris Yeltsin says doctors are expected to meet next week in Moscow to set a date for his heart surgery.

Interfax news agency quoted Yeltsin's press service as saying that U.S. heart specialist Michael Debakey will travel to Moscow next week, possibly on Monday. Debakey and Russian doctors are then expected to meet and jointly decide when to perform the operation.

Debakey consulted with Russian doctors last month on Yeltsin's condition. Yesterday Debakey said Yeltsin will need a multiple bypass operation because of clogging in the arteries to his heart. But he said he believes Yeltsin's chances are "very good."

Last night, leading Russian doctor Sergei Mironov said preparations for the operation were at an advanced stage. And Debakey said that Yeltsin's operation might be performed as early as next week.

The Kremlin has also issued the first of what it said will be a regular series of health bulletins on Yeltsin, who is undergoing tests at a sanatorium outside Moscow. The statement said the aim of Yeltsin's current treatment is to increase his physical and physiological capabilities.