Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 144

The names of the members of the new government will not be announced until after the August 9 presidential inauguration. According to the newspaper Segodnya, however, it is already clear that, for all the talk of streamlining the government, the number of deputy and first deputy prime ministers will go up, not down. Too many debts have to be repaid for services rendered during the election campaign for it to be otherwise. Chernomyrdin will as a result have at least four and perhaps even six deputies. They will be in charge of the economy (presidential adviser Aleksandr Livshits is slated for that slot although former deputy premier Aleksandr Shokhin is also in the running and Grigory Yavlinsky has signaled his interest); industry (incumbent Oleg Lobov has the inside track); the military-industrial sector (no clear candidate has emerged yet); and the social sector (here presidential adviser Viktor Ilyushin is the favorite). (Segodnya, July 23) Chernomyrdin has hinted at the possibility of a fifth and even sixth deputy, in charge of agriculture and the media.

Although loyalty has to be repaid, these appointments are not just jobs for the boys. Yeltsin’s appointment of the "big three" (Prime Minister Chernomyrdin, security overlord Aleksandr Lebed and Chief-of-Staff Chubais) makes it clear that, whatever the state of his physical health, the president has lost none of his political acumen. With such a delicate balance at the top, it will be very important who occupies the second-ranking government positions. Former US ambassador to Moscow Jack Matlock has pointed out that Yeltsin sees himself as the center of a wheel, and his aides as the spokes. "I keep them all at arm’s length," Yeltsin told Matlock in 1992. "I can use them when I wish, but they don’t control me or speak for me." (New York Review of Books, August 8, 1992)

Post of Privatization Czar Vacant.