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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Top Troika Presents New Team

President Boris Yeltsin announced the final changes to his reformed Cabinet on Wednesday, revealing a new government that, apart from some new faces in key positions, looks a lot like its predecessor.


At a Kremlin meeting with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and first deputy prime ministers Boris Nemtsov and Anatoly Chubais, Yeltsin approved the final list of candidates to replace the Cabinet he dismissed three weeks ago.


In key appointments, Chubais ally Alexei Kudrin was made deputy finance minister, with a strong likelihood that he will take over the minister's job soon. In addition, fired economics minister Yevgeny Yasin was kept on in the government address Wednesday afternoon.


Yeltsin's dramatic decision to ditch his entire Cabinet earlier this month led to expectations that the government would be radically restructured.


That appears to be true at the top levels, where Nemtsov, Chubais and their team of deputy prime ministers are all new, with the exception of Interior Minister Anatoly Kulikov.


There were fewer signs of fundamental restructuring at the ministerial level, however, with just two new faces among the 16 ministers in the Cabinet.


Mikhail Fradkov takes over as caretaker foreign trade minister in place of his former boss, Oleg Davydov. Viktor Khlystun returns as agriculture minister.


Nemtsov announced Wednesday that Yeltsin had signed a decree ordering government bureaucrats to give up their foreign-made official cars and switch to Russian-made Volga sedans.


Officials complain that Volgas are prone to breakdowns and have short working lives. But Nemtsov, the populist former governor of the Nizhny Novgorod region where Volgas are manufactured, has lobbied hard for the decree.


In some analysts' opinion, the changes in the government are not deep enough to have any real effect.


"These changes will allow the government to hold on for another six months, maybe longer," said Alexander Kinsburgsky, an analyst with the Vox Populi polling organization.


"[But] I don't think the changes in personnel will bring about radical or quick change in the economy or the activity of the government," he said. "With Chernomyrdin as prime minister, and with the same apparatus as before, the government has enormous inertia."


Kudrin, 37, began his career alongside Chubais in the economic reform committee of St. Petersburg's city council. When Chubais was appointed Yeltsin's chief of staff last year, Kudrin became his deputy.


Kudrin was rumored to be the candidate Chubais favored for the post of finance minister, but this was reportedly blocked by Chernomyrdin. Chubais has since added that post to his own portfolio.


Though Kudrin is to officially take charge of tax collection within the Finance Ministry, some media reports Wednesday suggested he would assume most of the functions of finance minister. RIA Novosti reported that he was already moving into the office of the previous minister, Alexander Livshits.


Yasin, the author of many recent economic reforms, was succeeded last week as economics minister by his deputy, Yakov Urinson. Yasin will return to the government with a brief to draw up macroeconomic programs.


"Knowing Yasin as an economist with a scientific degree who saw himself how the country is living, this appointment is very important," Chernomyrdin said at a news conference called to announce the new cabinet.


Analysts say they believe the Cabinet reshuffle unleashed a fierce tug-of-war between Chubais and Chernomyrdin for control of key spheres of influence within the government.


Chubais last week said his ally, Deputy Prime Minister Alfred Kokh, would have overall control of customs, and the tax police. But at Wednesday's press conference, Chernomyrdin asserted that Kulikov would keep day-to-day control of these sectors, with Kokh responsible for long-term planning and foreign trade activity.


Chubais told reporters that was the most effective arrangement. "The decision was made which would ... commit the potential of [Kulikov] and the forces behind him to the solution of the tasks, as well the potential of Alfred Kokh and the intellectual potential that stands behind him," he said.


In another curious move, Chubais was put in charge of the State Committee and the Federal Service for television and Radio Broadcasting.


Chernomyrdin confirmed that Nemtsov's chief responsibility would be to reform Russia's natural monopolies, which include the natural gas conglomerate Gazprom.