President Boris Yeltsin yesterday promoted his hawkish Interior Minister, Anatoli Kulikov, to the rank of deputy prime minister and put him in charge of coordinating the fight against economic crime. Kulikov will retain his post as interior minister but will also oversee the tax police and the customs service. (RTR, Interfax, February 4)
An economist by training, Kulikov is no friend of the market. Last year he hit the headlines when he advocated the re-nationalization of Russia’s commercial banks. Yeltsin’s spokesman said that aim of Kulikov’s promotion was "to improve coordination of law enforcement agencies in fighting crime, above all in the economic sphere." As Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin made clear in his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, the Russian government is increasingly concerned that the country’s reputation as a dangerous place to do business is frightening off urgently needed foreign investment. In a front-page article yesterday, however, the newspaper Izvestia queried Kulikov’s suitability for the post. It pointed to his lack of success in fighting crime and corruption as well as the failure of Interior Ministry troops to subdue the resistance in Chechnya. (UPI, February 4)
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