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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rumor Mill Mulls Chubais Successors

A leading Russian industrialist was tipped Thursday as a likely successor to Anatoly Chubais as first deputy prime minister in charge of the economy.

Interfax, quoting a well-informed source, said Vladimir Kadannikov, president of Russia's biggest carmaker AvtoVAZ, was among likely candidates to follow Chubais, effectively dismissed Tuesday by President Boris Yeltsin.

But other names circulating among Moscow bankers and politicians as the rumor mill turned included ministers past and present, a central banker and Yeltsin's top economic aide.

Chubais had responsibility for economic policy in the cabinet, where he was the standard-bearer of reform.

He resigned after losing Yeltsin's confidence, prompting many to wonder whether Russia would continue economic reforms.

Whether his departure means a change of face or a change of course remains to be seen.

Interfax quoted Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin as saying Chubais' successor would be a reformer who knows business well.

Kadannikov, 54, once tipped as a possible candidate for prime minister, certainly knows business.

He has worked for AvtoVAZ since 1967, heading it since 1988. The company, which makes Russia's most popular car, the Lada, is barely profitable, company officials say.

That could place him in an industrialists' lobby that wants state subsidies and support for the mammoth industries inherited from the Soviet Union, but is less keen on the competitive marketplace economic reforms will create.

The same doubts were voiced when Chernomyrdin, whose background is in the powerful gas monopoly Gazprom, became prime minister. But he has since shown he is committed to economic reforms and fighting inflation.

Former Economy Minister Alexander Shokhin, himself tipped as a possible successor to Chubais, said Kadannikov could not be ruled out.

But Shokhin thought it likely that Kadannikov would then swap roles with another first deputy prime minister, Oleg Soskovets, who is responsible for industry and seen as more in the industrialists' lobby than the reformist camp.

"If Kadannikov gets the post of first deputy prime minister there could be a redistribution of responsibilities between him and Soskovets," Shokhin said.

The daily Segodnya said the most likely successor to Chubais was Yeltsin's chief economic adviser, Alexander Livshits.

Other names circulating include Dmitry Tulin, a former central bank deputy head who now works at the International Monetary Fund, and Labor Minister Gennady Melikyan.

One possibility is that Chubais will not be replaced at all.

"That would be the hardest one to read," said a New York trader of Russian debt.