Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 102

Despite Mikhail Zadornov’s appointment as a second first deputy prime minister, Nikolai Aksenenko does not appear to be ready to yield total control over macroeconomic policy to him. In an interview yesterday, Aksenenko said that Zadornov, an economist, would be in charge of macroeconomic policy, but added that he, Aksenenko, would “look after the real sector” of the economy, which would involve both “economics and macroeconomics” (NTV, May 25). Aksenenko, who reportedly will gain control over Russia’s “natural monopolies,” including the giant natural gas producer Gazprom, will also be in charge of the government’s commission on operational issues (KOV), which was set up six years ago by government order and plays a key role in issues involving “economic reform” and control over the implementation of government decisions. One newspaper today described the KOV as rivaling the cabinet itself in power and authority (Segodnya, May 26). Adding to the sense that Aksenenko would play a key role in decisionmaking was a comment made yesterday by Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin, who described Aksenenko as the “first first deputy prime minister” and Zadornov as the “second first deputy prime minister” (Moscow Times, May 26).

Aksenenko, meanwhile, has been getting some negative press. “Expert” magazine’s Yulia Latynina wrote that while he was railways minister, a number of so-called “expediter” shipping companies made huge profits thanks to preferential tariffs granted by the ministry. Reports have also noted that some players connected to these companies and the railways ministry have been attacked or murdered, including former Deputy Railways Minister Vadim Morozov, and the chauffeur and former business partner of Sergei Aksenenko, the minister’s nephew, who runs the expediting firm Evrosib (Moscow Times, May 26; Obshchaya gazeta, May 20-26).