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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Wanted: Reformist PM, With Training

Moscow offers some unusual job opportunities, but surely nothing to top the latest solicitation by a leading job-placement firm.

"Wanted for a developing country: Prime Minister," read the Russian-language advertisement that appeared in last week's edition of the newspaper Kapital. The only qualification was three years' experience, and duties included "the ability to develop a market economy."

Was this an opposition party statement of protest against the incumbent officeholder? The result of some country's desperate search for a competent leader?

Nothing of the sort.

The mystery stood revealed Monday when Evromanagement, a job-search agency that usually recruits executives for top Western and Russian businesses, said it had placed the ad itself as an advertisement-cum-practical joke on readers.

"It started out as a prank, but it did serve a purpose," said Evromanagement spokesman Andrei Pankov. "It drew attention to our company, which we had aimed for, but it also enabled us to get in touch with people with financial education and experience in administration."

In fact, at least 20 people, including some expatriates, had responded to the job offer by Friday. Evromanagement officials said most callers had been serious about their applications -- despite none having the requisite three years' experience -- but had reacted "very reasonably" when told about the prank.

The ad listed a number of duties the successful candidate would have to perform, including "extracting the country from its current financial crisis, strengthening the national currency, formulating the country's budget, selecting the Cabinet, resolving national conflicts, improving the crime situation and creating a market economy and re-establishing the country's industrial base."

One journalist had asked if the country in question was Belarus, Pankov said, "but most believed it was a Third World country."

Besides boosting Evromanagement's name recognition, the hoax turned out to be a boon for some of the prime ministerial aspirants: Pankov said the company would offer jobs to some who met qualifications for other vacancies.

The prank was thought up by employees to celebrate the Moscow-based firm's first year in the placement business last week.

A spokeswoman for Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin -- who marked four years in office last week -- said the ad had not come to the attention of her boss.