Kremlin's Dangerous Game

By Karash, Yuri | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), January 2, 2000 | Go to article overview

Kremlin's Dangerous Game


Karash, Yuri, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


MOSCOW - Many years ago Vladimir Lenin said, "Bolsheviks could make an alliance even with the devil if they are sure that will ultimately outwit him." Lack of principles and personal integrity were glorified by Lenin as the guidelines for communist politicians. The Kremlin's politics today demonstrate that the top rulers of Russia, despite all their claims to be democratic, are in fact deeply bogged in the Lenin's ideological and moral heritage.

During the governor's election in the Moscow region Dec. 19, none of the candidates gained enough votes to win. Anatoly Tyazhlov, a governor who ruled the region for the last eight years and who is associated closely with Boris Yeltsin, lost, and two other candidates will now compete for the position during the second run of the election on Jan. 9.

One of them is the Afghan war hero Col.-Gen. Boris Gromov, a man who shares liberal and democratic values and proved to be a restless fighter against corruption. The other candidate is Gennady Seleznyov, a leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) and former speaker of the lower chamber of the Russian Parliament (Duma). Gen. Gromov got 21 percent of the votes; Mr. Seleznyov drew 27 percent.

Mr. Gromov got fewer votes than Mr. Seleznyov because of the support the Moscow region's voters gave other non-communist candidates.

The outcome of the second run is easy to predict at first glance. A competition between Gen. Gromov and Mr. Seleznyov is a struggle between liberalism and democracy on the one hand and the administrative-command system and autocracy on the other. Thus one could logically expect that people who supported a non-communist choice for the region (overall about 30 percent of the votes other than those cast for Gen. Gromov and Mr. Seleznyov) would support Gen. Gromov. This would definitely assure Gen. Gromov's victory at the second run of the election and salvation of the Russian capital city from the Red Belt around it.

The reality, however, is much more complicated. Gen. Gromov with his anti-corruption plans is perceived by the Kremlin as a much bigger threat to its power than the communist Mr. Seleznyov. Besides, by helping Mr. Seleznyov become a governor, Boris Yeltsin and his team would create in the Moscow region a political counterbalance to Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov.

While Mr. Luzhkov and Gen. Gromov formally belong to the same centrist movement Otechestvo (Motherland) and potentially could form an alliance, the communist Mr. Seleznyov will be hostile to Mr. Luzhkov. Gas, oil and water supplies come to Moscow from its region. It will give Mr. Seleznyov a powerful tool of control over the capital of Russia. He will be able to destabilize the situation in the city by cutting necessary supplies and thus damage Mr. Luzhkov's image among Moscow residents.

The Kremlin is vitally interested in undermining Mr. …

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