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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

WHAT THE PAPERS SAY: Kiriyenko Appointment Didn't Surprise Everyone

As always, [First Deputy Prime Minister] Anatoly Chubais embellished his role in history and his influence on [President Boris] Yeltsin when he told television cameras that the oligarchs had woken up in a cold sweat on Monday morning. If they did so, then not all of them did. Most of the oligarchs had already known about [the dismissal] last week. And those seriously involved in the process on Sunday were certainly not covered in cold sweat on Monday, but were shedding tears of tender emotion. ...

As everyone knows, young people have been most willing to pull chestnuts out of the fire for the president, but:

1. Youth passes quickly in Russian politics, today. [Former Prime Minister] Gaidar, Chubais and [First Deputy Prime Minister Boris] Nemtsov pulled chestnuts out of the fire only for the president for a short time. And it was Chernomyrdin who did so longest. He did so longer than others, but not lately -- for which he paid a price.

2. The interests of the president are temporary, but the Russian bureaucracy is eternal. In the end, even the most clever schemes can be reduced to this basic rule. After he became a bureaucrat, Chubais quickly forgot about Yeltsin's interests, but immediately remembered his own and those of the bankers and bureaucrats closest to him.

Being the head of government and not having your own political interests is the same as becoming a eunuch to spend a year in a harem.

Perhaps Yeltsin is dreaming of raising [acting Prime Minister Sergei] Kiriyenko into a sexless homunculus. The experiment is doomed to failure because it is against the nature of things.

Bureaucracy can be overcome only bureaucratically or economically. And neither the first nor the second is possible if the prime minister does not wield real power, both economically and politically. Otherwise, the bureaucrats, not Yeltsin, will decide who will be elected president in the 2000 elections.

[Kiriyenko will be] either a homunculus or a normal prime minister. The first won't save Yeltsin. The second may or may not save him. It's simple. A lot simpler than a delicate game with Kiriyenko. Delicate things break. They'll break here. It's a question of when.

But for now, Yeltsin has solved his power problem.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, March 25

Energetic Minister

Sergei Kiriyenko began his dizzying ascendancy to one of the pinnacles of executive power exactly one year ago. Supported by First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, he was then appointed to the post of deputy fuel and energy minister. As Nemtsov's right-hand man in the fuel and energy complex, Kiriyenko practically ran this branch of industry. And he did that rather independently, without giving in too much to his chief's promotional campaigns.

It was Kiriyenko's levelheadedness and administrative intuition, picked up during his Komsomol work (he headed the Gorky Oblast Komsomol for four years) that helped him catch Chernomyrdin's eye. Rather far removed from the fuel and oil complex -- he was head of the Norsi oil company for only 18 months before coming to the Fuel and Energy Ministry -- Kiriyenko was able to figure out what had to be reformed and how.

His fresh perspective on the problems of the current situation have turned out to be a plus. Sergei Kiriyenko made impressive achievements during his year of working in the Fuel and Energy Ministry, first as a deputy and then as minister. He successfully untangled the industry's knot of nonpayments, began the development of reasonable rates for the energy monopolies and established limits on the consumption of electricity and combustible oil products for budget organizations.

Russky Telegraph, March 24

Kremlin Cabal

Official explanations tell us that the president had noticed Kiriyenko and highly appraised his management potential. However, Yeltsin had seen his new favorite only once, and, of course, had drawn no conclusions about the Nemtsov protege. Consequently, someone must have persistently recommended him to the president as a candidate. But who?

All important staffing issues have been decided by a narrow circle of people with access to the president: the presidential chief of administration and close Berezovsky associate Valentin Yumashev, [the president's spokesman,] Sergei Yastrzhembsky and [Yeltsin's daughter] Tatyana Dyachenko.

The idea was conceived to take Nemtsov's creature from under him and place him above Nemtsov. That he had already given Nemtsov his first orders only two minutes after he was presented in the Cabinet says a lot. Now as Nemtsov's employer, Kiriyenko went straight to the point in stating that his Cabinet appointments would be governed not by feelings of friendship, but by pragmatism. This was a "strong move," as Chubais once said of Nemtsov's appointment.

Pravda, March 25