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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Prime Minister Declares Support for Shakhrai

After staying on the sidelines of the election campaign for weeks. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin gave a cautious endorsement to the Party of Russian Unity and Accord in an interview published Tuesday.

When asked which parties he supported in the election campaign, Chernomyrdin told the popular Trud newspaper that he backed "those which support the government's program".

But Russia's increasingly influential prime minister, whose endorsement has been courted by several blocs running in the Dec. 12 elections, singled out the party headed by Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai for approval.

Russia's Choice, the party headed by First Deputy Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar which is most closely identified with President Boris Yeltsin, had not publicly supported the government program, Chernomyrdin said.

Asked about that statement at a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Gaidar declined to comment.

Until this interview, Chernomyrdin had avoided supporting any party, saying that he wanted to devote all his time to managing the economy. The prime minister told Trud, formerly the newspaper of the U. S. S. R'. s trade unions, that he would never allow large-scale unemployment in Russia (Page 12).

Both Shakhrai's party and the centrist Civic Union said over the past week that they had Chernomyrdin's support.

The prime minister said that he had decided not to seek election to the new parliament in order to guarantee stability in the country and keep the government's reforms on track.

He warned cabinet ministers running for election on different tickets not to let their political differences interfere with their work, adding that so far this had not happened.

After the elections, these ministers could continue their work as a coalition, Chernomyrdin said. But he acknowledged that a strong showing by any one of party could lead for calls for a new prime minister to replace him.