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Russia: Berezovsky Blames Chubais And Nemtsov For His Dismissal

Moscow, 5 November 1997 (RFE/RL) - Boris Berezovsky, dismissed earlier today by Russian President Boris Yeltsin as deputy secretary of the Security Council, says he thinks the country's two first deputy prime ministers were behind the move. Berezovsky, a wealthy businessman, dismissed criticisms that his state duties were incompatible with his business activities.

Itar-Tass quotes Berezovsky as saying in a radio interview that Yeltsin had made his decision at the urging of first deputy prime ministers Anatoly Chubais and Boris Nemtsov.

Berezovsky harshly criticized Chubais, calling him a hypocrite and saying it is Chubais who is guilty of mixing government work with business interests. Berezovsky also accused Chubais of demonstrating the mentality and behavior of a Bolshevik. Berezovsky earlier claimed Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin had not been shown the text of the decree firing him.

Itar-Tass quotes Nemtsov as praising Yeltsin's dismissal of Berezovsky, saying it was an important step away from "oligarghic capitalism." He said Yeltsin had repeatedly warned government officials that it is not permissable to mix government and business.

Berezovsky controls financial interests which in turn own a large portion of the shares in the 51-percent-state-owned ORT TV. He owns or controls significant holdings in other media, including a magazine and two newspapers.

Berezovsky is one of a small group of wealthy businessmen who threw their media and financial resources behind Yeltsin's re-election campaign last year. He was appointed to the Security Council in October of last year and helped draft a peace deal with Chechen separatists, which Yeltsin signed in May. But Berezovsky has clashed with Chubais, Yeltsin's economic reform chief, over the course of policy in recent months.

Earlier today, Yeltsin's office issued a statement saying that Berezovsky was relieved of his duties as deputy secretary of the Security Council and would be assigned to another post.

His dismissal has been welcomed by Russian Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznyov and Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov. Seleznyov said Berezovsky should have been dismissed long ago, arguing that it was inappropriate for a high ranking government official to continue business activities.