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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Official: Some Reformers Will Stay

President Boris Yeltsin and his new prime minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin, agreed Sunday to keep a core of the present cabinet's economic reformers in the next government, according to a presidential spokesman.


"As far as the make-up of the cabinet is concerned, the basic current team will be preserved", Vyacheslav Kostikov, Yeltsin's spokesman, told Itar-Tass.


"The government maintains loyalty to the idea of a transition to a market economy and intends to continue the reform course".


It was not immediately clear which of several key ministers close to former acting Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar would be invited to stay on.


Yeltsin and Chernomyrdin met Sunday following the president's sudden return to Moscow. Yeltsin had unexpectedly cut short his first trip to China.


His return appeared to underscore his support for the economic reformers who served under Gaidar, 36, whom he abandoned for the more conservative Chernomyrdin in a last-minute maneuver at the Congress of People's Deputies last week.


Though already a member of the Gaidar government, Chernomyrdin, 54, a former energy minister, said he favored an approach to reform that would not "impoverish" the people or allow the country's industry to collapse.


This approach would require a dramatic increase of government subsidies to bolster inefficient state enterprises, including costly heavy industry.


Chernomyrdin took the first step in this direction Friday, allocating 200 billion rubles ($480 million) to prop up the ailing energy sector through an amendment to the draft law on the 1992 budget. Parliament, which also favors increased financial support for industry, has approved the budget in principle.


In Beijing, Yeltsin said that despite the change of prime ministers, he still stood behind the Gaidar team.


"Gaidar brought his own team with him, his young inner core", Yeltsin said, according to The Associated Press. "The new prime minister wants to bring in his own team, but the core of Gaidar's reformers must not under any circumstances be pulled apart".


The president said he had cut short his visit to China because "they have begun to fight for government portfolios too early, to pull apart the cabinet, and so the boss must return and restore order there".


He was apparently referring to remarks that Arkady Volsky, the leader of Russia's Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, reportedly made in Japan last week.


Volsky was quoted by Izvestia as suggesting the names of centrist leaders for key cabinet posts and saying that Yeltsin should no longer control Russia's economic policy. Among those he reportedly named were Nikolai Travkin, who has just resigned as leader of the Democratic Party of Russia, and Yuly Vorontsov, a Foreign Ministry veteran who was prominent in the Gorbachev era.


Volsky has denied the remarks and said that he would sue Izvestia for publishing them.


The so-called Gaidar team consists of 20 economists who came to the government when Gaidar was named deputy prime minister for the economy a year ago.


Most visible among them are Alexander Shokhin, a deputy prime minister; Anatoly Chubais, the deputy prime minister in charge of privatization; Andrei Nechayev, the economics minister; and Pyotr Aven, the foreign trade minister.


Andrei Kozyrev, the liberal foreign minister whom hardliners have accused of policies favorable to the West, also faces possible replacement, according to government sources.


Speaking Sunday at a Congress of the pro-reform Democratic Russia movement, Kozyrev warned that conservative political forces were gaining momentum to reverse the government's progressive foreign policy. "There is a real danger of a return to the fortress mentality in foreign policy", he said, referring to the Soviet Union's years of Cold War policies. "The Soviet Union was not a great country. It was a military superpower. This is a path to nowhere", he said.


Delegates to the Democratic Russia congress denounced Yeltsin's decision to name Yury Skokov, the conservative secretary of his Security Council, to head a new foreign policy commission. Of the Gaidar team members, only Chubais has confirmed that he will stay.