Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

New Cabinet Seen as Conservative, Mediocre

Russia's new government will be decidedly more conservative, less dynamic and more united than the coalition of young reformers and older industrialists that made up the previous cabinet, analysts said Thursday.


Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin announced the formation of a new government Thursday that leaves Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais, in charge of privatization, the lone advocate of rapid reform.


The views of the ministers who will make up the rest of the upper tier of government are much closer to those of Chernomyrdin, ranging from moderate to conservative on the crucial issue of economic reform.


The top echelon of government will consist of Chernomyrdin, one first deputy prime minister, Oleg Soskovets, and three deputy prime ministers -- Chubais, Alexander Zaveryukha and Yury Yarov.


Boris Fyodorov, the reformist finance minister, said he would not enter the government at all Thursday, refusing an offer to keep his ministry but suffer demotion from the post of deputy prime minister.


With Fyodorov gone, the cabinet will likely lose a monetarist approach to economic reform. Also missing will be the internal policy battles, which at times made the Chernomyrdin government appear to be at war with itself.


"It is a much more united team," said professor Sergei Markov, a political commentator with the National Democratic Institute, a U.S. think tank in Moscow.


Of the new deputy prime ministers he added, "The main feature is their unremarkability."


Oleg Soskovets, 44, now the only first deputy prime minister and the second most important person in government, is cut from the same industrialist cloth as Chernomyrdin.


Like the prime minister, Soskovets favors increased credits to stimulate production and thinks the radical reformers relied too heavily on controlling inflation.


"I disagree with those who think that right now they do not have to deal with production," Soskovets said in November, arguing that inflation could be curbed by boosting production and thus raising tax revenues to government.


Soskovets has spent most of his life in Kazakhstan, working his way up from a roller in a steel rolling shop to general director of the Karaganda metallurgical complex.


A former Soviet minister of metallurgy, he was appointed first deputy prime minister in April where he has dealt mostly with industrial policy.


"He's of the better and more understanding management group of the old Soviet state enterprises," a Western official said.


Alexander Zaveryukha, 53, has used his 12 months in government to push for more subsidies for agriculture and cuts in grain imports.


This has brought him into conflict with his reformist colleagues, especially Fyodorov, who made Zaveryukha's resignation a condition for joining the government.


Zaveryukha, in turn, has accused Fyodorov of "paralyzing" Russian agriculture with his policies. He has also said that creating small private farms will not solve Russia's food supply problems.


"He doesn't seem to do anything except maintain the status quo in agriculture," said a Western official.


Zaveryukha comes from the Orenburg region in the southern Urals. He has worked in agriculture all his life, starting his career as a tractor-driver.


In 1990 he was elected to the Russian parliament and joined the cabinet last February. Zaveryukha is a leader of the Agrarian Party, which performed well in December's elections and has allied with the Communists in the State Duma.


Yury Yarov, 51, has probably the lowest profile of any cabinet member.


"He is a bureaucrat. He is known as a person who never has any conflict with anyone," said Markov.


This peaceability served him well during his brightest spell of public attention, when he mediated a truce between President Boris Yeltsin and parliament speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov during the hectic Seventh Congress of People's Deputies. Yeltsin invited him into the government shortly afterward.


Yarov's diplomatic skills have also been put to use when he has headed government missions negotiating in Russia's ethnic trouble spots. A Leningrad-born engineer, Yarov worked for 14 years as a Communist Party apparatchik before being elected to parliament.