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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Communist Minister Hands In Resignation




Yury Maslyukov, the acting trade and industry minister, ruled himself out of a job in Viktor Chernomyrdin's proposed Cabinet on Thursday, citing a difference of views with the acting prime minister.


Maslyukov, a Communist State Duma deputy who was co-opted into the Cabinet last month by sacked Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko, said he had written a letter to President Boris Yeltsin asking to be relieved of control of his "nonexistent" ministry. Yeltsin has not yet approved the resignation.


Maslyukov's spokesman Anton Surikov said in a telephone interview that the minister decided to resign after a meeting with Chernomyrdin convinced him that the prime minister "has a different vision of the ministry."


Maslyukov did not explain what the disagreement with Chernomyrdin was about, but he is believed to have been involved in a turf war with Economics Minister and Chernomyrdin ally Yakov Urinson over which sectors of the economy the newly created Trade and Industry Ministry would control.


When he accepted the appointment in July, Maslyukov insisted that the trade and industry portfolio include industrial policy, the defense industry, exports and government investments in the economy. Most of these were previously the realm of Urinson's Economics Ministry.


Kiriyenko accepted Maslyukov's conditions and eventually signed a document shaping the new ministry. But within days the prime minister was dismissed.


Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznyov said that after Chernomyrdin's appointment, it was apparent that the internal struggle would be decided in favor of Urinson's ministry.


"Viktor Stepanovich [Chernomyrdin] likes Yakov Urinson more," Seleznyov said Thursday.


Economics Ministry spokesman Vadim Lazutin confirmed Thursday that his ministry had resisted Maslyukov's attempts to gain control over vital sectors of the economy. "Naturally, we were not happy, but we did not wage a war," Lazutin said.


Maslyukov, 60, said he would return to his post as chairman of the Duma's committee on economic policy. Under law, government officials are required to relinquish their Duma seats. But Maslyukov's spell in the Cabinet was so brief the Duma, the lower house of parliament, did not have time to revoke his mandate and so he can claim back his seat.


One analyst expressed relief that Maslyukov, a former head of the Soviet economic planning committee, was out of the government. "It would have been tragic for the country if Chernomyrdin and Maslyukov had agreed on the general economic policy," said Vyacheslav Nikonov, head of the Fond Politika think tank.