Install

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

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chubais Rules Out Post in Cabinet

Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said Friday he would include some opposition leaders in a new cabinet to be decided over the next few days, but Anatoly Chubais, once Chernomyrdin's right-hand man on running the economy, said he would not be in it.


Newly re-elected President Boris Yeltsin, who has assured Chernomyrdin a continued role as prime minister and charged him with forming a new cabinet, was at the Kremlin on Friday, keeping out of the public eye, apparently recovering from an illness.


The president held telephone conference calls with some of his ministers and received a congratulatory telegram from the State Duma wishing him "wisdom, health and strength."


Meanwhile, Chernomyrdin held the first cabinet meeting since the July 3 vote and promised to announce the new government "in the coming days." Some members of defeated candidate Gennady Zyuganov's leftist-nationalist team, the People's Patriotic Bloc, may be offered posts in the government, Chernomyrdin said, according to Interfax.


Chernomyrdin said the new government would be presented to the Duma for approval only after Yeltsin's inauguration, tentatively scheduled for Aug. 9.


But while the door is open for some opposition figures to enter the government, economic reformer Chubais said at a press conference Friday he is retiring from politics and has decided to enter the private sector. He will work as a consultant to newly privatized enterprises.


Chubais, who as deputy prime minister managed Yeltsin's unpopular privatization and tight fiscal policies for the past four years, was fired from the government in January as a political liability, but returned to administer Yeltsin's re-election campaign.


But he said his exit from politics freed him to indulge in a more candid assessment of some of his political colleagues, including Yeltsin, who he praised as Russia's best leader since Peter the Great.


Having run Yeltsin's campaign on shrill anti-communist slogans for the past six months, Chubais appeared to grudgingly offer an olive branch to communist leader Zyuganov. He said Zyuganov could play a worthy role in Russian politics but only if he were to unconditionally recognize private property, dump the word "communist" from the name of his party and renounce radical fellow travelers such as Viktor Anpilov of the pro-Stalinist Working Russia movement.


Chubais also criticized the prospect of Yabloko Party leader Grigory Yavlinsky joining the new government.


As a member of Yeltsin's re-election team, Chubais said he handled talks with Yavlinsky and came away from that experience concluding that "Grigory Alexeyevich [Yavlinsky] has exhausted his moral right to enter the government."


Chernomyrdin, speaking a day earlier, was even blunter. "Why are you always talking about Yavlinsky?" the prime minister scolded journalists. "What's le ever done?"


Zyuganov's bloc is due to hold a closed-door conference Saturday to discuss what posts in the government it would accept, although no official offers have yet been made, and Chernomyrdin has said he will deal not with the bloc as a group but with its individual members.


Analysts said opposition leaders were likely to get seats in the new cabinet. "They will accept if Boris Nikolayevich [Yeltsin] asks them to join the government," said Sergei Markov of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "They will likely get [the ministries of] labor, social security, the military-industrial complex and agriculture."


But Yavlinsky looks to be a much longer bet. "I understand why Chernomyrdin doesn't want to let Yavlinsky into the government," said Alexander Konovalov of the USA/Canada Institute. "Chernomyrdin's university transcript as an engineer was once published; he got nothing but Cs. ... He is not an economist."