Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 102

The decision to name former Finance Minister Mikhail Zadornov as a second first deputy prime minister seems to have been a compromise worked out by President Boris Yeltsin. Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin had been pushing for State Duma budget committee chief Aleksandr Zhukov to serve as first deputy prime minister in charge of macroeconomic policy. The Kremlin, however, according to one account, decided to nix Zhukov’s appointment–first, because he had insisted, publicly, on being the sole first deputy and, second, because of his “closeness with the leftists in the Duma” (Kommersant, May 26). On the other hand, prior to Zadornov’s promotion, rumors also circulated that Kremlin administration chief Aleksandr Voloshin, also said to be a Berezovsky ally, would be brought into the second first deputy prime minister’s spot.

By choosing Zadornov, who is not known to have connections to any of the major Moscow financial political clans, Yeltsin would appear to be trying to create a balance between the two major warring factions–the one headed by the tycoon Boris Berezovsky, with whom Aksenenko is alleged to be connected, and the other headed by privatization architect Anatoly Chubais. It would appear to be the same strategy which, in 1997, led him to pick Boris Nemtsov as a first deputy prime minister, in order to create a balance or buffer between then Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and Chubais, who was then Chernomyrdin’s other first deputy.

The appointment of Zadornov can also be seen as an indicator that Berezovsky, despite his apparent successes in placing allies in the new cabinet (besides Aksenenko, Vladimir Rushailo, the new interior minister, is said to be a Berezovsky ally) has not been given carte blanche. On the other hand, Zadornov has not been given an extremely strong hand. He will not–as he appeared to assume yesterday–simultaneously be holding the finance ministerial post, which Chubais did hold in 1997. That post has gone to Mikhail Kasyanov, who has been Russia’s main negotiator with the Paris and London Clubs of creditors.