REPORTED DIVISION OF CABINET POWERS GIVES AKSENENKO THE HIGH CARDS.
Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 110
Russian media reported yesterday and today that the division of powers and responsibilities within the cabinet of Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin has been completed. According to the press reports, First Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Aksenenko will take charge of the cabinet when Stepashin is absent, and First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko will take over when Aksenenko is absent. Aksenenko will reportedly oversee industrial development, structural and investment policy, energy policy, construction and transport, antimonopoly policy, relations with the Commonwealth of Independent States and–perhaps most important–Russia’s “natural monopolies.” These include the Gazprom natural gas giant, the railways (Aksenenko was previously railways minister) and United Energy Systems, Russia’s electricity grid, which is headed by Anatoly Chubais (Russian agencies, June 8).
While the official document outlining these powers and responsibilities has not yet been released, the division cited above, if true, would concentrate enormous power in Aksenenko’s hands, making him almost on a par with Stepashin himself. According to widespread speculation in the Russian press, Aksenenko was placed in the cabinet by “The Family”–the group of Kremlin insiders which includes President Boris Yeltsin’s daughter Tatyana Dyachenko, Boris Berezovsky and Sibneft oil chief Roman Abramovich. On the other hand, some checks have apparently been placed on Aksenenko’s power. Ilya Yuzhanov, for example, reportedly a Chubais ally, has been made the head of the state antimonopoly agency (Russian agencies, June 8).
LUZHKOV AND KIRIENKO ENTER INTO OPEN POLEMICS…