Moscow; 14 November 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Russian President Boris Yeltsin today removed one of his aides in what appears to be the latest looming controversy involving government officials in Russia.
A Kremlin statement did not make clear whether Aleksandr Kazakov, first deputy head of the presidential administration, was sacked or left of his own free will.
Kazakov, who is also board chairman of the powerful Gazprom monopoly, is among authors of a controversial book on Russia's privatization program. Yesterday the Duma asked the prosecutor-general to investigate fees received for the yet unpublished book. First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais is also among co-authors of the book.
Chubais today sounded a conciliatory note, saying criticism was justified and that he will accept Yeltsin's judgement on the matter. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said the row was an embarrassment for his government and promised to sort things out. Meanwhile the Duma today adopted a bill on fighting corruption, which bars government officials from accepting money or gifts lest they be accused of corruption. Critics of the book deal claim the fees were part of a disguised bribe.