Russian Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko announced several more ministerial appointments yesterday. Most important was that of Oleg Sysuev as the third deputy prime minister, to take charge of social issues. Sysuev joins Deputy Premiers Boris Nemtsov (who is, Kirienko said, taking responsibility for “reforms and the natural monopolies”) and Viktor Khristenko (responsible for finance and economy). There will not, Kirienko said, be more than three deputy premiers in the government. Kirienko said other appointments would be announced on May 5 and will include representatives of Duma factions. (Itar-Tass, April 30)
Kirienko also announced a number of structural reforms that may well prove more significant than personnel changes. He said he was abolishing the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations (that is, the ministry of foreign trade) and replacing it by a bumper Ministry of Industry and Trade. This new ministry will also assume some of the functions of the Ministry of Economics. Also being set up is a new Ministry of Land Policy, Construction, Housing Maintenance and Municipal Services. The Ministry for Cooperation with the Member-States of the CIS is being abolished, and its functions transferred to the Foreign Ministry.
In addition, Kirienko said, a presidium of the Russian government will be created, members of which will have wider powers than rank-and-file federal ministers. The prime minister did not explain how this will be functionally different from the old system, under which ten deputy premiers oversaw the work of the federal ministers. He did, however, say that the responsibilities of federal ministers will be boosted: It will in the future be possible for them to be charged with supervising the work of state committees even when these are not formally part of their own ministries. (Itar-Tass, April 30)
RUSSIA’S TRADE WITH CIS COUNTRIES RISES, BUT OVERALL TRADE FALLS.