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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

President Fills Out Young Cabinet




President Boris Yeltsin filled out his technocratic new Cabinet by appointing more young economic managers considered less likely to engage in political intrigue, while taking care to distribute a few jobs among representatives of the feuding financial clans.


The top appointment during the long holiday weekend period was that of Oleg Sysuyev, 42, who takes over labor and welfare issues as one of three deputy prime ministers, joining Boris Nemtsov, 38, and Viktor Khristenko, 40.


With the addition of Sysuyev, the new government of Sergei Kiriyenko takes shape as one headed by market-oriented reform figures with few ties to Moscow's warring financial interests.


Yeltsin chose Kiriyenko, 35, to replace Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, whom he fired March 23, saying that the government was too involved in political intrigue and was letting the cause of economic reform lag. Analysts believe Yeltsin is trying to bring the government under tighter personal control and reduce its role as an independent center of power.


The new government also has a strongly provincial cast, with none of the new top four having more than 13 months' experience in Moscow. They have few links to bureaucratic or financial power bases outside the government -- a sharp contrast to Chernomyrdin, former head of the political heavyweight Gazprom natural gas concern.


Sysuyev was one of 11 appointments Yeltsin made Thursday as he finished filling the major posts. Most of the changes come in economic management, at the political forefront as Russia tries to weather a tougher world financial environment and spur its sluggish economy. Most noneconomic departments kept their holdover ministers from the Chernomyrdin government.


Sysuyev, 42, oversaw social policy in the old government, but with the lesser title of minister. He is the former mayor of the Volga River city of Samara, where he pioneered free-market economic reforms, much as Nemtsov did while serving as governor of Nizhny Novgorod. Kiriyenko is also from Nizhny Novgorod, while Khristenko is from Chelyabinsk in the Ural Mountains region.


Nemtsov is to oversee public utilities and transport, while Khristenko is to have overall charge of government finances.


Sysuyev's place as labor minister was taken by Oksana Dmitriyeva, 40, a State Duma deputy from the liberal Yabloko bloc. Dmitriyeva, an economist, is from St. Petersburg and had served on the budget committee in parliament's lower house.


Despite his expressed intent to cut down on political intrigue, Yeltsin made several appointments that appeared intended to appease the powerful financial interests that embroiled Chernomyrdin's government in internal fighting.


Archenemies Boris Berezovsky and Anatoly Chubais each got something, with Chubais, fired along with Chernomyrdin, appointed head of the state electrical monopoly, Unified Energy Systems. Politically connected billionaire Berezovsky last week became executive secretary of the Commonwealth of Independent States.


Chubais, a former first deputy prime minister in overall charge of the economy, has ties to the Uneximbank financial empire of Vladimir Potanin. Berezovsky served as deputy secretary of the Security Council until he was ousted by Chubais last year.


Their new appointments put them at one remove from the Cabinet, while at the same time keeping them within Yeltsin's view.


The first deputy prime minister title was eliminated in the new government, and the number of deputy prime ministers was cut from six to three. Additionally, the job of deputy prime minister for CIS affairs, held in the old government by Ivan Rybkin, was eliminated and folded into the Foreign Ministry.


The so-called financial oligarchs received another significant appointment with the naming of Sergei Generalov, 34, as fuel and energy minister. Generalov is vice president of one of Russia's most influential banks, Menatep, and formerly served as vice president of the affiliated Yukos oil company. Yukos, controlled by financier Mikhail Khodorkovsky, has recently merged with Berezovsky's Sibneft.


Other changes include the replacement of Agriculture Minister Viktor Khlystun with Viktor Semyonov, 40, manager of a collective farm outside Moscow that supplies the McDonald's restaurant chain. Viktor Nekrutenko, who worked on property and natural monopolies issues in the government apparatus, becomes natural resources minister.


In addition, government spokesman Igor Shabdurasulov is said to be leaving the government at his own request, NTV television reported Sunday.


Most of the ministers from the Chernomyrdin government were reappointed, including Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov, Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev, Finance Minister Mikhail Zadornov, Science and Technology Minister Vladimir Bulgak, Economics Minister Yakov Urinson, Minister of State Property Farit Gazizullin and Transport Minister Sergei Frank.


Also reappointed were Culture Minister Natalya Dementyeva, Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu, Education Minister Alexander Tikhonov and Railways Minister Nikolai Aksenenko.


Sergei Stepashin, justice minister in the old government, was confirmed as interior minister after being nominated in the interim period, as was his replacement at justice, Pavel Krasheninnikov.


Five more appointments are expected Tuesday after a scheduled meeting between Yeltsin and Kiriyenko.


In forming the new Cabinet, Yeltsin showed his determination to concede nothing to the Communists and nationalists in the Duma, which approved Kiriyenko on April 24. Neither succeeded in getting any representation in the new government.


Communist Deputy Yury Maslyukov was offered the post of minister in charge of a Cabinet expert council, but turned it down, Interfax reported. The Liberal Democratic Party of Vladimir Zhirinovsky, despite its leader's loud claims of entitlement to a Cabinet seat for one of its members, also came away empty-handed.


Ironically, the only faction to send a member to the Cabinet was the unwilling Yabloko -- the only faction to vote 100 percent against Kiriyenko's confirmation. New Labor Minister Dmitriyeva was repudiated by party leader Grigory Yavlinsky for joining the government.


Political analysts warn that the new government faces rough sledding in the Duma, which may exert itself to restore the credibility lost through its cave-in on the Kiriyenko nomination under Yeltsin's threat of new elections. Several opposition members have spoken of bringing a vote of no confidence against Kiriyenko as early as this fall.