Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 90

President Boris Yeltsin made several important cabinet appointments on May 8. All the main posts have now been filled, leaving only a few relatively minor vacancies. (RTR, May 8)

Among the last important appointments was that of forty-five year-old Georgy Gabuniya as acting minister of trade and industry. Gabuniya has until now been deputy minister of foreign trade heading the team negotiating Russia’s entry to the World Trade Organization. He has been appointed acting minister, Yeltsin’s spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky explained, because the ministry is new and expected to suffer teething pains. (RTR, May 8)

Another last-minute appointment was that of Ivan Rybkin, who is reportedly to retain the rank of deputy premier but to also have a foot in the presidential apparatus as special envoy for the CIS. Rybkin’s appointment looks like a slap in the face for Prime Minister Kirienko. Kirienko has already told the world that he intends to have only three deputies, but Rybkin’s appointment would make four. It would ensure that Rybkin, whom Kirienko reportedly dislikes, was in the government but not of it, since he would be directly responsible to the Kremlin rather than the White House. Finally, Rybkin’s new role would undermine Kirienko by depriving the prime minister of direct control of Russia’s relations with the CIS — placing them instead in the hands of the wily Rybkin and his close ally, CIS Executive Secretary Boris Berezovsky. (Moskovsky komsomolets, May 8)