had not been born. The new prime minister-designate of Russia is but 35 years old. By his own account his father was Jewish, his mother Russian, his name Ukrainian and his place of birth Abkhazia, a rebellious province in what is now independent Georgia in the Caucasus.

Kirienko grew up in the Komsomol (Communist Youth) program and no doubt would have found his niche in the Soviet bureaucracy had history taken a different course. Instead in post-Communist Russia he opened a bank in Nizhny Novgorod in 1994, at the age of 31, moving on quickly to the chairmanship of a large oil refinery, and then to a post in the Ministry of Fuels and Energy, under the sponsorship of the ex-mayor of Nizhny, First Deputy Prime Minister