Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 205

Interviewed yesterday on Russian TV, Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin denied rumors of a split within the cabinet and, specifically, between himself and his two first deputies, Anatoly Chubais and Boris Nemtsov. "There is no conflict," Chernomyrdin said. "I would not permit that, nor would the president." (RTR, November 2)

There has been speculation that Chernomyrdin emerged strengthened from the government’s recent standoff with parliament and that government’s reform wing, by contrast, lost influence. (Nezavisimaya gazeta, October 28) The rumors were fanned when Chernomyrdin refused in a TV interview to deny that he had presidential ambitions. (NTV, October 19) They increased at the end of last week, when a cabinet meeting chaired by Chernomyrdin rejected a draft program for pension reform presented by Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Sysuyev. (NTV, October 30) This was a slap in the face for First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais, who chairs the commission on economic reform that had already approved the draft.

At present, state pensions are paid to retirees regardless of their working record. The program proposed by the reform team calls instead for pensions to be based on contributions paid into a personal pension account during a person’s working career. The change-over would be phased in gradually, but the minimum retirement age for both men and women would be raised by five years and pensioners would no longer be allowed, as at present, to collect their state pensions while continuing to work full time.

Both Chubais and fellow first deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov told last week’s cabinet meeting that the switch to a system based on personal contributions must not be delayed. But the cabinet came down on the side of the Labor Ministry, which argued against launching the change. The cabinet declared that such a switch was "premature" and said it would reconsider the issue only in December. The cabinet also refused to consider raising the minimum retirement age, and Chernomyrdin criticized Sysuyev for presenting the cabinet with what the prime minister described as a rough draft that had not been fully worked out. "In a matter that affects the interests of millions of Russians, we cannot permit haste or arbitrary decisions," Chernomyrdin said. (RTR, November 2)

Yeltsin Signs Power-Sharing Agreements with Five More Russian Regions.