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The "Family"

 

A distinctive development of Yeltsinís second term in office was the growing influence of Russiaís financial and industrial magnates in Kremlin politics. Beginning in 1996 the so-called oligarchs had actively looked for people in Yeltsinís inner circle who could provide more effective channels for lobbying their interests. They finally found in Tatiana Diachenko, Yeltsinís younger daughter, the key that gave them access to the president.

Tatiana Diachenko and Valentin Yumashev. Photo: Yuri Feklistov

Previously, Diachenko had kept out of politics and the public limelight, but in 1996 she was persuaded to take an official position as the presidentís image manager. Soon Diachenko became the chief conduit of the oligarchsí influence on Yeltsin. It is doubtful that she possessed the necessary experience or expertise to understand the complex problems facing the nation. It was also rumored that her financial and commercial interests, entangled with those of the oligarchs, could have influenced several important political decisions.

In the final two years of Yeltsinís presidency the effective control over most important decisions and appointments passed into the hands of Yeltsinís inner circle, which the media dubbed the ďFamily.Ē This preeminent clan was composed of a small circle of Yeltsinís aides and top officials, a few of the oligarchs, and the presidentís blood relations. The growth of its influence was a direct result of the presidentís ill health and his inability to fulfill routine presidential duties.

Alongside Tatiana Diachenko, the Family was rumored to include Valentin Yumashev, a journalist who had entered Yeltsinís circle in 1990 by helping him to write his first book of memoirs; Alexander Voloshin, an economist who was put in charge of the presidential administration; Roman Abramovich, a talented young businessman and a protégé of Boris Berezovsky; and the ubiquitous Berezovsky himself.

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