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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

GKI Chief Kazakov 'A Chubais Man'

The new head of Russia's State Property Committee (GKI) likely will try to stay the course on privatization, analysts said Friday, although they expect he will have to make tactical changes to appease the program's powerful opponents.

Alexander Kazakov, 47, was appointed to the post Thursday as part of a government shake-up that included the sacking of key economic liberals, including the first deputy prime minister, Anatoly Chubais.

"He is evidently a Chubais man, so no radical changes in the privatization policy will occur," said Mikhail Delyagin of the presidential Analytical Center. "I don't know if they are friends, but I am sure that they looking at the world the same way."

Kazakov was deputy chairman of the property commission under Chubais in 1993-94, until he joined the president's office as head of the department dealing with regional administrations.

But how much control he will have over the fate of privatization remains uncertain. Assurances from President Boris Yeltsin that the program would continue were undermined Friday, when the State Duma announced plans to set up a privatization review commission next week.

Even so, a State Property Committee official welcomed Kazakov's return. "This is not a bad variant," said the official, who asked not to be identified. "We were concerned that an absolute stranger could be appointed."

Analysts also said Kazakov's appointment might have been intended to balance the naming of Vladimir Kadannikov, a conservative industrialist and director of the troubled car-maker AvtoVAZ, to succeed Chubais in the key position of first deputy prime minister.

Kazakov will also hold the title of deputy prime minister. That suggests he will have broader power than his predecessor, Sergei Belyayev, who left to lead the parliamentary faction of the pro-government Our Home Is Russia party.

"Kadannikov's appointment is a pure political step aimed at the forthcoming [presidential] elections, so the president needs to have some balance," said Delyagin.

Yaroslav Lisovolik of the Russian-European Center for Economic Policy said Yeltsin gained several advantages by appointing Kazakov.

"Kazakov is an insider. He knows the structure very well. This is a guarantee that the process will continue," he said. "But at the same time, he knows regional elites and could be of major help for the president before the elections."

But the head of the economic section of European Union's Moscow office, Andreas Papadopuolos, said Kazakov will not be able to determine the course of privatization as Chubais did.

"Unlike Chubais, who was a politician of the first range, Kazakov will be able just to follow the course," he said. "Kazakov has a good reputation and much experience. His nomination is a sign that the Russian leadership does not want changes."

But Kazakov likely will have to make some changes, at least tactical, and slow the pace of sell-offs after the strong showing by Communist in the December parliamentary elections.

Communists and nationalists who strongly opposed Chubais' policies are leading the effort to slow privatization, and they cannot be ignored.

In his first interview after the appointment, Kazakov said the focus of privatization should change from mass sell-offs to more targeted auctions.

He also called for a detailed look at the loans-for-shares scheme. Some economists have criticized the program, in which chunks of Russia's best companies, such as Norilsk Nickel, YUKOS and LUKOil, were auctioned off in exchange for loans to the government.