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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

An Old Friend Of Yeltsin's From the Urals

The Russian government's team of professors is being replaced by a team of directors.

Hardly anyone thought that the Gaidar team would survive the present parliament. The question was only when and how the present cabinet, which had been called "temporary" from the very beginning, would be replaced.

Theoretically the team led by Yegor Gaidar could have held office longer. If President Boris Yeltsin had not backed down, Gaidar would probably have remained until the next Congress of People's Deputies session. and the next Congress might not have taken place.

Informed sources say that Yeltsin's direct appeal to the people was planned as the next-to-last step in the power struggle. The last step was to have been direct presidential rule, and a suspension of the Congres's power. Yeltsin did not go this far, which many Western observers interpreted as a victory for democratic forces.

But the president had to abandon most of his positions, and he had to give up Gaidar, over whom he almost went to war with the parliament.

The post of prime minister caught Viktor Chernomyrdin unawares. Chernomyrdin first heard about the president's intention of proposing him as head of government in the break before the final vote, i. e. at the very last moment. If anyone had been considered in the president's circle as a possible replacement for Gaidar, it was Vladimir Kadannikov, the director of the Zhiguli car factory. and if he had been named, Gaidar would probably not have refused to be part of his cabinet. That is what he himself says.

Chernomyrdin was the one of the final three candidates whom Yeltsin had known for the longest time. They had known each other since Yeltsin's time in Sverdlovsk, when Chernomyrdin was in the city of Orsk, in the Ural mountains, and then in Tyumen. The new prime minister one of very few with whom Yeltsin uses the familiar form of address.

Chernomyrdin himself probably cannot say what kind of policies he will conduct: again, his appointment was a complete surprise to him. But he has consulted with Leonard Vid -- who used to be deputy director Gosplan, the Soviet state planning agency -- on forming an economic bloc in the government. Not much is known about Vid, except that he was entrusted by the head of Gosplan, Yury Maslyukov, with the task of developing a plan for returning to a completely regulated economy at the beginning of 1990. The plan for returning the country to where it was in January 1985 was prepared, but never carried out.

Chernomyrdin will probably consult with others besides Vid, and Vid may not be the same as he was before. In any case we will not have to wait long to find out what will happen next.