In what is being interpreted as a victory for the reform wing of the Russian government, Vitaly Artyukhov was reported over the weekend to have resigned as head of the State Tax Service. (Itar-Tass, April 5) Also reported to have offered his resignation is Energy Minister Petr Rodionov. Rodionov was one of only a handful of associates of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin remaining in the government following the recent re-shuffle. He is accused of obstructing Russia’s negotiations with Chechnya over the transport of oil through the pipeline from Azerbaijan that crosses Chechen territory. (Kommersant-Daily, April 5)
Rodionov, who was only appointed minister in August 1996, was previously the director of the St. Petersburg Gazprom subsidiary Lentransgaz. Rodionov told Interfax that he was "90 percent" certain his successor as energy minister would be Aleksander Samusev, the deputy president of the Yukos-Rosprom oil company. Samusev was deputy energy minister between 1992 and 1994. Rodionov’s predecessor as minister, Yury Shafranik, now serves as the chairman of the board of the Tyumen Oil Company.
Also on April 5, ousted Finance Minister Aleksandr Livshits replaced Sergei Ignatev as presidential economics adviser. Livshits had held that post prior to his ministerial appointment in August 1996. It is rumored that Ignatev, a Chubais ally, will be appointed deputy finance minister.
Battle Over Natural Monopolies Heats Up.