Yeltsin ally turned foe wins seat in parliament Korzhakov threatens to reveal secrets about his enemies in Kremlin

February 11, 1997|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

MOSCOW -- The man whom President Boris N. Yeltsin sacked as his chief bodyguard last summer wound up the first part of his come-back plan yesterday by winning a parliamentary seat from the central Russian town of Tula.

Russians are waiting nervously to see how quickly the triumphant Alexander V. Korzhakov, whose place in the 450-seat State Duma, the lower house of parliament, gives him immunity from prosecution, will carry out part two of his plan -- to get revenge on his many political enemies by revealing the secrets he learned as a Kremlin insider.

"Anyone who's got anything to fear from such revelations should be scared," smirked the round-faced Korzhakov, interviewed on Russian television as news of his 26 percent victory margin was released.

"I know there are plenty of people with something to fear out there, although I never specially set out to collect compromising material to blackmail anyone with," he added in an interview with the newspaper Izvestia.

Korzhakov likely knows more Kremlin secrets than most. Until liberals managed to squeeze him from power last summer, the former mechanic and KGB man controlled all access to Yeltsin. His loyalty to Yeltsin over 11 years of service made him the president's most trusted aide, friend and drinking buddy.

But a noisy settling of scores after presidential elections in July -- between Korzhakov's secretive, conservative clique and a group of young liberals headed by Yeltsin's current chief of staff, Anatoly B. Chubais -- left the bodyguard out in the cold.

For weeks afterward, Moscow's liberal newspapers were full of scandals about Korzhakov's close allies, accusations that they were involved in top-level corruption, extortion and murders; investigations of this, however, all went nowhere.

Now, liberals fear, the tables could be turned on Chubais' men.

If Korzhakov wins, "the compromising material which he has only threatened everyone with so far will probably start being published and this will lead to a new spiral of political instability," television anchorman Yevgeny Kiselev said before the results were announced.

Since being fired, Korzhakov has formed an alliance with Alexander I. Lebed, who was ousted as security chief last year and is running for the governorship of the Tula region next month.

Lebed, who wants to become president himself, has called many times for Yeltsin to admit he is too unhealthy to rule and step down. Korzhakov is blunter still.

Asked what he thought of Russia's current rulers, Korzhakov answered: "In a word, our present authorities are powerless. And, in a man's world, this is state impotence."

Pub Date: 2/11/97

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