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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

New Sell-Off Chief Called 'Moderate'




Russia's new privatization minister Farit Gazizullin, appointed by President Boris Yeltsin on Saturday, is a moderate supporter of reform hawk Anatoly Chubais, who began the Russian privatization drive six years ago, analysts said.


"Our opponents are not convinced by the data showing that 125,000 nonstate enterprises make up 70 percent of the gross national product," Gazizullin told the magazine Delovye Lyudi earlier this year. "But I think that it is one of the most important achievements of privatization."


He said privatization had provided the conditions for competition and allowed the creation of an equities market that was a source of cheap financial resources for many enterprises.


But he added that further privatization and state control over the sell-offs had to be worked out with and approved by Russia's Communist-dominated lower chamber of parliament, the State Duma.


The opposition-dominated Duma is the biggest opponent of privatization, and has used any possible pretext to attack Chubais, who spearheaded Russian sell-offs in 1991, and his successors.


First Deputy Prime Minister Chubais launched the shares-for-loans privatization plan, criticized for insider deals, which traded control of government stakes in major companies for loans from commercial banks.


Deputies argue that this program led to the sale of Russian assets for next to nothing.


Gazizullin is a much more moderate reformer than his predecessors, especially Chubais and Maxim Boiko, Chubais' close ally since the start of privatization, analysts said.


In the magazine interview Gazizullin said, "All the problems ... have to be coordinated and regulated first of all on the legal basis. The privatization ministry is fruitfully working jointly with the Duma on a new version of the law on privatization of state and municipal enterprises."


He also criticized some of the results of privatization, as well as "an uncontrolled process of slashing state property," which he said was dangerous.


The privatization ministry post had been vacant since Yeltsin sacked Boiko after a political scandal in November. The scandal was over large advance fees that Boiko, along with other top officials including Chubais, received for a book on Russian privatization.


Among possible candidates for the post of privatization minister, analysts had named Communications Minister Vladimir Bulgak, whose position on privatization is quite opposite to that of the Chubais team.


Gazizullin, who had been first deputy privatization minister, was also appointed as deputy prime minister.


Gazizullin, 52, and a former professor of sociology, is married and has one son and a grandson. Before moving to Moscow in 1996, he had been first deputy prime minister and chairman of the state property committee of Russia's autonomous Tatarstan republic.