Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 156

Yeltsin yesterday appointed ministers to the seven remaining vacancies in his cabinet. Russian television screened footage of Yeltsin meeting with the new appointees in the Kremlin; the president smiled and moved less woodenly than he did at his inauguration two weeks ago. The new ministers are: Anatoly Zaitsev (Railways); Yuri Bespalov (Industry); Viktor Orlov (Natural Resources — in the previous cabinet, this portfolio included environmental issues; it is not clear who will have responsibility for the environment in the new cabinet); Petr Rodionov (Fuel and Energy); Tatyana Dmitrieva (Health — the only woman in Yeltsin’s new government); Yevgeny Sidorov (Culture); and Aman Tuleev (CIS Affairs). (ORT, August 22)

Tuleev’s appointment attracted the most attention because of his Communist sympathies. Though not a member of the Russian Communist party, Tuleev ran in the number three slot on the Communist party’s slate in the Duma elections in December 1995, and he withdrew his candidacy for the presidency on the eve of the recent elections in favor of Communist party leader Gennady Zyuganov. Born in 1944, Tuleev is part Turkmen and part Tatar by parentage. His present post is head of the legislative assembly in Siberia’s Kemerovo oblast, where he has fought bitterly against the Yeltsin-appointed governor to ensure timely payment of wages and pensions and to prevent the closure of unprofitable coal mines. Earlier this month, he was elected one of the five co-chairpersons of the Popular-Patriotic Union, a coalition of Communist and nationalist movements. Also noteworthy was yesterday’s appointment of an industry insider and close Chernomyrdin associate, Petr Rodionov, to head the Fuel and Energy Ministry. Rodionov, a 45-year-old engineer who has a reputation as a hard businessman, is on the board of directors of the natural gas company Gazprom and is managing director of "Lentransgaz," Gazprom’s St. Petersburg subsidiary. (Reuters, August 22) Prime Minister Chernomyrdin is a former chairman of Gazprom, Russia’s largest monopoly.

News of Tuleev’s appointment got a mixed reception yesterday from fellow left-wingers. Communist leaders predicted that entering the government spelled the end of Tuleev’s career. Only the leader of the Derzhava movement, former vice president Aleksandr Rutskoi, saw the appointment as a sign of the government’s willingness to cooperate with the opposition. Tuleev defended his decision in a television interview, saying the opposition should act in a "constructive" way, and not confine itself to sniping at the government. (For the foreign-policy implications of the Tuleev appointment, see the "CIS Affairs" section below.) (NTV, ORT, August 22)

Russia’s New Cabinet Holds First Meeting, Discusses Budget.