Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 218

Russian first deputy premier Anatoly Chubais got a stay of execution yesterday when Russia’s Communist-dominated Duma drew back from its earlier threat to make Chubais’s ouster from the government a precondition for agreement to debate the 1998 federal budget. That debate is now scheduled for November 21. Following an exhausting and exhaustive series of negotiations between Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and the leaders of the Duma’s factions, the lawmakers restricted themselves to urging President Boris Yeltsin to accept Chubais’s offer to resign from his dual posts of First Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister.

Chubais’s remission may be short-lived, however. Chernomyrdin is due to meet with Yeltsin today and, following that meeting, Chubais is expected to lose his post as Finance Minister. The position is understood to have been offered to Mikhail Zadornov, a respected economist who chairs the Duma’s budget commission. Zadornov, a member of Yabloko, is reportedly undecided about the offer. Although Chubais is expected to keep his post as First Deputy Prime Minister, some observers believe it is now only a matter of time before he loses that, too.

Chernomyrdin insisted yesterday that, even if "one, two, or three people are dismissed from the government, the government’s policy will not change." Now that the Communists have agreed not to tie the outcome of the budget debate to Chubais’s ouster, the budget’s chances of adoption look distinctly better. The Yabloko faction still says it will vote against the budget on November 21, on the grounds that its expenditure targets are unrealizable, but Yabloko’s votes alone will not be enough to derail the budget if the Communists and their agrarian allies decide to support it.

Yeltsin Replaces Disgraced Officials.