Yeltsin fires chief of internal security

March 01, 1994|By Kathy Lally | Kathy Lally,Moscow Bureau of The Sun

MOSCOW -- President Boris N. Yeltsin fired the head of the internal security police yesterday as shock waves from the release of the leaders of the October revolt jolted the Russian political landscape.

Against the background of growing domestic tension, Russia dispatched a warning shot in its foreign relations by expelling the CIA station chief in Moscow in retaliation for U.S. expulsion of a Russian diplomat in the Ames spy scandal.

The head of the Federal Counterintelligence Service, Russia's successor to the KGB's internal security police, was dismissed without explanation.

But several sources suggested that Mr. Yeltsin was holding Nikolai Golushko responsible for the unusually swift prison release of Ruslan Khasbulatov, Alexander Rutskoi and other leaders of the October revolt.

The lower house of the Russian legislature, the Duma, voted Thursday to grant amnesty to those charged in the August 1991 coup, the May 1, 1993, hard-line riots and the October disturbances.

By Saturday afternoon, Mr. Yeltsin's most implacable foes -- who openly urged the overthrow of his government -- were walking out the gates of Lefortovo Prison.

"The purge has begun," Independent Television observed in reporting Mr. Golushko's dismissal. "And there will be others."

In a television interview, prosecutor Alexei Kazannik said that Mr. Yeltsin had asked him, Mr. Golushko and Interior Minister Viktor Yerin to delay the release of the prisoners as long as possible.

Mr. Kazannik responded by resigning because he said he could not legally resist the Duma's order even though he thought it was wrong to grant such an amnesty.

Mr. Golushko was blamed for the release because the Federal Counterintelligence Service had not relinquished control of Lefortovo Prison even though Mr. Yeltsin, in a reorganization of the agency two months ago, had transferred the prison to Mr. Yerin's jurisdiction.

Oleg Kalugin, a former KGB general, said yesterday that the counterintelligence service may have been responsible for the speedy release.

"I do not rule out the possibility of collusion between conservatives in the prosecutors' office, who did nothing to slow down the amnesty process, and the Security Ministry, which physically released Khasbulatov, Rutskoi and the others," Mr. Kalugin said.

The former KGB remains a powerful player here. Only last week the lawyer for Vil S. Mirzayanov, the chemist accused of revealing state secrets when he blew the whistle on chemical weapons research, accused one of Mr. Kazannik's subordinates deliberately keeping information from the prosecutor.

The lawyer, Alexander Asnis, said a deputy prosecutor prevented Mr. Kazannik from receiving appeals on Dr. Mirzayanov's behalf. Dr. Mirzayanov spent an extra week in prison even though the charges against him were suspended by the court.

The release of Mr. Rutskoi and the others has produced dire predictions of further violence. Mikhail Poltoranin, head of the Parliamentary Committee for Information Policy, suggested in a newspaper article that it would soon lead to attempts to restore communism and labor camp punishment.

Sergei Shakhrai, leader of the Party of Russian Unity and Concord, suggested that the Duma take responsibility for the newly released prisoners by decreeing that no one is allowed to use the amnesty to incite violence.

Mr. Yeltsin is expected to meet today with Ivan Rybkin, the speaker of the Duma, in an attempt to resolve the growing political confrontation, presidential aides said.

Even though Russia ordered the expulsion of James Morris, identified as the CIA station chief in Moscow, the Foreign Ministry appeared to be trying to play down any damage to relations with the United States.

Mr. Morris was expelled because the United States expelled a Russian diplomat in retaliation for the scandal in which the KGB allegedly had a high-level CIA official, Aldrich Ames, in its employ.

Russia has been offended by the uproar in the United States over the Ames affair, pointing out that the CIA has continued its spying in Moscow despite warmer relations between the two countries.

The Russian expelled from Washington was an official representative of the KGB, sent to the U.S. to work on world intelligence issues that involved mutual Russian-American interest.

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