Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin announced more cabinet appointments yesterday. But while the premier said the government is now "virtually complete," significant gaps remain and suggest that a struggle is still going on between Chernomyrdin and his two new first deputies, Anatoly Chubais and Boris Nemtsov. (ORT, March 26)
The changes announced yesterday further strengthen the government’s reformist image. Chernomyrdin said former economy minister Yevgeny Yasin will remain in the government as minister without portfolio, in charge of long-term strategic economic planning. Chernomyrdin is said not to have wanted the "egghead" Yasin, with whom he reportedly feels uncomfortable, but the 63-year-old economist is viewed as a godfather by the younger reformers now crowding into the government. Chernomyrdin named Aleksei Kudrin, 36, a reformist economist from St. Petersburg with close ties to Chubais, as first deputy finance minister with responsibility for revenue collection. Vladimir Putin will replace Kudrin as deputy head of the presidential administration and its chief comptroller. (RTR, March 26)
However, a struggle continues over some key remaining vacancies. The post of minister for foreign economic relations remains unfilled, as do those of head of the State Antimonopoly Committee and of two federal services for regulating the so-called natural monopolies and the transport and communications services. A further sign that the reshuffle is not yet complete is Chubais’ own appointment as finance minister, a post he is not expected to want to hold for long. The cabinet reshuffle was originally supposed to be finished in time for President Yeltsin’s March 6 state of the nation address, but the process now seems likely to drag out beyond the end of this month. The Russian media have described it as a "humiliation" for Chernomyrdin, who has so far lost most of the battles to get his own men appointed and whose influence over the government has shriveled. (Nezavisimaya gazeta, March 21)
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