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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

British Paper Names Banking Clique

A leading British newspaper has named the group of seven businessman and bankers that, according to one of their number, is now running Russia.


The Financial Times, citing an interview held last week with Boris Berezovsky, businessman and media magnate and now deputy secretary of the Security Council, said that the clique had banded together during the annual world economic forum held in January in Davos, Switzerland.


Their stated goal was to save Russia from the danger of communist and nationalist domination by ensuring the victory of Boris Yeltsin in the summer's presidential elections.


The group includes Stolichny Bank head Alexander Smolensky; Mikhail Khodorkovsky, president of the Menatep financial and oil empire; Pyotr Aven and Mikhail Fridman, of Alfa Bank; Vladimir Gusinsky, head of the Most banking and media group; Vladimir Potanin, former head of Oneximbank, now first deputy prime minister in charge of the economy; and Berezovsky himself.


Their six enterprises, according to Berezovsky, control about 50 percent of the economy, as well as the lion's share of the national media.


According to Berezovsky, the group handpicked Anatoly Chubais, then a recently ousted privatization chief, for his present position as presidential chief of staff.


Chubais, 41, had demonstrated his affinity for the bankers' position. As architect of Russia's privatization program, Chubais' devotion to the market economy was what made many of these men so powerful.


"I am a product of privatization," Berezovsky told the Financial Times. "That is why I am so close to Chubais' mentality."


As chief of staff, Chubais has become arguably the most important man in Russia, virtually controlling access to the president, in tandem with Yeltsin's younger daughter, Tatyana Dyachenko.


But the bankers evidently want more than secondary influence. According to the Financial Times interview, the group jointly decided that Potanin should assume the position of economic tsar in the new administration. Berezovsky followed, with the Security Council appointment.


Critics of the current regime complain that the creation of a new power elite poses considerable danger for Russia.


"Our new regime is reproducing the characteristics of the old system," said Grigory Yavlinksy, leader of the liberal Yabloko party. "The name is not just banks and television: It is oligarchy and mafia."