Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 81

Russian Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko told a TV interviewer on Sunday night that he hopes to be able to work constructively with the Duma and that “witch hunts” and arguments over his appointment can now be left behind. (RTR, April 26) Kirienko is due to meet with President Boris Yeltsin today to present his proposals for the structure and membership of the new government. A presidential spokesman said this morning that Yeltsin may announce the first appointees immediately after today’s meeting. (BBC, April 28)

Kirienko, who has come under intense pressure to give cabinet posts to members of the various parliamentary factions that supported his candidacy, said Yeltsin had given him a free hand in drafting his proposals. He said further that he would be putting forward the names of people who were “professionally suited” for such jobs, “regardless of which political parties or factions they belong to, and of how these factions voted.” He hinted that this would include some members of the Duma. Rumors circulate that a number of ministers in the economic sphere will be replaced.

Yeltsin’s representative to the State Duma, Aleksandr Kotenkov, told a press conference yesterday that the structure of the new government would differ radically from the old one, and include sharp cuts in government staff. (Itar-Tass, April 27) He said the cuts would be aimed at trimming bureaucracy to reduce delays, red tape and corruption, and to eliminate duplication between ministries and departments. Kotenkov’s words would be encouraging were it not that precisely the same promises were made both in the summer of 1996, when a new government was being put together following Yeltsin’s reelection to the presidency, and again in March 1997, when Yeltsin carried out the government reshuffle that brought Anatoly Chubais and Boris Nemtsov into the cabinet. Then, as now, there was much talk of blueprints for radical change in the way in which the Russian government functioned. This time around, Kotenkov said, several federal ministries are likely to be merged, and some three hundred people employed on the staff of the presidential administration, which largely duplicates the work of the government, are likely to see their posts abolished. (ITAR-TASS, April 27)

The fates of Nemtsov and Chubais are reportedly an important part of the equation. Political commentator Vyacheslav Nikonov said last night that almost all factions of the Duma are pressing for Boris Nemtsov to be excluded from the new government. Even more important, they are demanding assurances that Anatoly Chubais will not be appointed to head the electricity monopoly, United Energy Systems. (ORT, April 27)