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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yeltsin Picks Show Classic Balance

Russia's new government will not be named until after President Boris Yeltsin's inauguration Aug. 9, but its basic contours are already visible and two salient points are clear:


First, Yeltsin aims to preserve his personal power through a divide-and-rule strategy. Second, no meaningful coalition government is in the cards.


Analysts saw this week's appointments of Igor Rodionov as defense minister and Anatoly Chubais as presidential chief of staff as indicative of Yeltsin's intentions for his second administration.


Rodionov was strongly backed by national security tsar Alexander Lebed and his appointment ends speculation that Yeltsin might jettison Lebed now that he has fulfilled his election-campaign role.


The appointment, perhaps for the first time, also gives Lebed clear and effective power by having a close ally in such an important ministry.


Chubais, the unpopular architect of privatization, was brought back partially as a way of setting limits on the politically ambitious retired general.


And both can serve as checks on Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin.


"It's clear that Yeltsin wants to keep a balance of powers," said Andrei Kortunov of the Russian Science Foundation.


The arrangement promises an administration in classic Yeltsin style, with different factions and prominent aides played against each other to ensure that nobody can challenge the power of the president himself.


And there are further checks and balances. While Lebed managed to get Rodionov appointed defense minister, the heads of the other "power ministries" -- Nikolai Kovalyov, the new head of the Federal Security Service, and Interior Minister Anatoly Kulikov -- are not beholden to Lebed, again potentially restricting his ambitions.


According to the daily, the working group tasked with determining who will fill the cabinet is headed by Economics Minister Yevgeny Yasin, and that his deputy Mark Urinson, Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Vasilyev, State Statistics Committee Chairman Yury Yurkov and Chernomyrdin aides Nikita Maslennikov and Sergei Kolesnikov are actively involved.


All of these officials, Izvestia wrote, are close to Chernomyrdin.


And according to Yury Korgunyuk of the Center for Applied Political Studies, Gennady Zyuganov's Communists are likely to be left in the cold.


"They still might consider some Communist or neo-communist candidates to fill less important positions, but these positions will be marginal," Kortunov said.


Interfax on Thursday quoted Chernomyrdin as saying the number of federal ministries and agencies with overlapping fields of responsibility will probably be reduced.


Likewise, Izvestia reported that the working group would like to reduce the number of ministries dealing with branches of the economy and create one large "public enterprises" ministry, which would manage industries by receiving control over state share packets. The size of the government apparatus would be reduced by 30 to 40 percent.


According to the daily, the group is also pushing for a government with only two first deputy prime ministers -- one who would deal with economic questions, the other with social questions.


According to Izvestia, however, Yeltsin has already named both Oleg Lobov and Viktor Ilyushin as first deputy prime ministers, both more socially than economically oriented. Izvestia wrote that another two first deputies will handle the economic sphere.


Thus plans for a more efficient government have already conflicted with Yeltsin's desire to put his loyalists within Chernomyrdin's domain.


As for the two first deputy prime minister posts dealing with economic questions, Izvestia reported that Chernomyrdin is opposed to the candidacy of Sergei Glazyev, the left-wing economist close to Lebed, but favors Mikhail Zadornov, chairman of the State Duma budget committee and a member of the Yabloko party. Izvestia reported that Alexander Livshits, Yeltsin's top economic adviser, is more likely to get one of the spots than Yavlinsky, who has called for Chernomyrdin's resignation.


"I doubt Yavlinsky will participate [in the government] -- he is not very consistent with Chernomyrdin," said Korgunyuk. "Why do they need him, particularly since Chubais is there and has so much stronger a reputation as an organizer and a doer?"