C.I.A. Confidential

Banking on Boris

On Wednesday, September 1, a homemade bomb exploded on the third level of the Manezh Square underground shopping mall—dubbed "Luzhkov's pyramid" by critics of the Moscow mayor's taste in architecture—in the heart of Russia's ancient capital, only yards away from the red brick walls of the Kremlin. Forty-one people were injured, but none thus far (as of the second week in September) has died as a result of the terrorist attack. That same week, with mobs of clashing protesters—divided over the results of regional elections—gathering daily in the North Caucasian region's capital, a call from Karachay-Cherkessiya's leading citizens was made to Boris Yeltsin: appoint magnate (and former secretary of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the loose organization of former Soviet republics) Boris Berezovsky as Moscow's plenipotentiary representative in the troubled "subject" of the Russian Federation. Meanwhile, Russian troops were engaged in heavy fighting with Islamic militants in the mountainous region of Western Dagestan, also in the North Caucasus. Back in Moscow, Yeltsin's press spokesman denied any Kremlin involvement in the latest scandal to shake the Russian political-economic elite: The Russian government was not involved in laundering any funds, either IMF money or alleged kickbacks for Kremlin refurbishing, and, furthermore, the West was obviously attempting to use...

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