President Boris Yeltsin began his promised cabinet shake-up today by ordering almost the entire government to resign. The sole exceptions are Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and First Deputy Premier Anatoly Chubais, who was appointed to his new post late last week. Yeltsin has given Chernomyrdin one week in which to form a new government. Some ministers are likely to be re-appointed but others — including the finance and defense ministers — may not return. (UPI, BBC, March 11) Interviewed on Russian TV last weekend, former prime minister Yegor Gaidar said Russia will escape an economic crisis only if Chubais is able to build a strong government team of like-minded reformers. Gaidar described rumors that he himself will be appointed presidential economic adviser as "exaggerated." (RTR, March 9)
Chubais wants to fashion a coalition government of representatives of all Russia’s democratic parties in order to mount a common front against the Communist- and nationalist-dominated Duma. He is therefore keen to include a member of Grigory Yavlinsky’s Yabloko party in the cabinet. Yabloko’s Mikhail Zadornov is seen as the likely choice as deputy prime minister in charge of either the Finance Ministry or the Economics Ministry (the latter is expected to be upgraded to the same status as the Finance Ministry). Yavlinsky confirmed that government feelers have been put out to Yabloko, but ruled out the possibility that he himself will join the government and said no other member of his party will take part unless there is a complete change of the government’s economic policy. (NTV, March 9) There will indeed be a change of course if Chubais gets his way, but it may not meet Yavlinsky’s prescriptions.
Russia-NATO Talks Pick Up Speed.