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Russia: Yeltsin Fires Berezovsky From CIS Post

Moscow, 5 March 1999 (RFE/RL) - The Kremlin says Russian President Boris Yeltsin sacked Boris Berezovsky yesterday as executive secretary of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) because he had overstepped his authority and failed to implement unspecified instructions by the chairman of the Council of CIS Heads of State.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Yakushkin said the decision to sack Berezovsky yesterday stemmed from Yeltsin's dissatisfaction with the job he was doing. Yeltsin fired Berezovsky in his capacity as chairman of the Council of CIS Heads of State. Berezovskii had been appointed to that post at the suggestion of the Ukrainian and Georgian presidents during the CIS summit in Moscow last spring

The spokesman said no international official had the right to interfere in the matters of any CIS state -- an apparent reference to comments by Berezovsky this week that Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov's government lacked liberal values.

Analysts say Primakov had moved this year to remove a perceived threat from Berezovsky. Authorities have recently carried out investigations of several of Berezovsky's businesses, while the State Duma lower house of parliament last month backed a resolution seeking Berezovsky's removal as CIS executive secretary.

Yeltsin named Ivan Korotchenya, Berezovsky's predecessor, as acting CIS executive secretary. Berezovsky's dismissal must be endorsed by the presidents of the other CIS member states.

CIS reaction today to the news was mixed. Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev and Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze said Yeltsin had no right to unilaterally remove a CIS official without consulting with the other leaders that make up the loose confederation of 12 former Soviet republics. But Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said the recommendation would most likely be supported by other CIS leaders.

Berezovsky himself criticized the decision. Speaking in Baku today after meeting with Aliyev, Berezovsky blamed Communists and suggested Yeltsin's efforts to remove him were reminiscent of the Soviet era.