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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

WHAT THE PAPERS SAY: Premier Playing a Stealthy Hand With Cabinet




Yevgeny Primakov appeared in the Russian White House as quietly and inconspicuously as a seasoned spy should. No one in the president's administration viewed him as a new subordinate. This evident absence of any superior above Primakov should have had some effect on the process of forming the Cabinet, such as enabling the new prime minister to select his new team freely and independently and without any prompting from the sidelines.


But it didn't happen that way. The choice of Yury Maslyukov as first deputy prime minister was maybe Primakov's own, but it was required nonetheless: Maslyukov was at the top of the Communist Party's list of candidates for the post, and by offering him the position, Primakov assured himself the support of the left wing deputies. In the hope of receiving the support of the Federation Council, Primakov is offering the regional governors optional membership of the government. In particular he promises to include all the representatives of interregional economic associations in the presidium of the government. ?


Consequently, instead of a team of professionals that are poised to implement its leader's decisions, Primakov has built a multi-party Cabinet consisting of party functionaries who are practically not obliged to him in any way. Such a government cannot work in a steady fashion, and the prime minister will have a tough task ahead of him reconciling the conflicting interests of his deputies.


Primakov understands this all too well. For this reason he is taking his time not only over the choice of ministers but also the apportioning of responsibility and authority among his deputies. In view of the sharp strengthening of the State Duma's position and the weakening of presidential power, a unique opportunity has opened up for Primakov to become a sort of second president f president of the White House. ?


In addition to establishing a much firmer grip on the government apparatus than any of his predecessors did, the new prime minister is clearly setting up a system of restraints and counterweights among his subordinates. Each of the appointed deputy prime ministers has been allowed to express his grievances about the potential leadership of one government block or another. It is clear that Maslyukov and [Deputy Prime Minister] Alexander Shokhin are both hoping to form a financial economic block. But the prime minister is in no hurry to separate the two adversaries, since the resulting uncertainty over which of them has what authority works in his favor. By supporting the efforts of one or the other to take charge of certain ministries, the prime minister actually strengthens his own position in the power struggle.


Kommersant's 'Vlast' magazine,


Sept. 22


Foregone Conclusion


The opposition's majority in parliament was unwilling to assume political responsibility for forming the new Cabinet and its work. Under such circumstances, Yevgeny Primakov could not have acted in any other way than the way he did while heading the government. Nor could the government have shaped up in any other way.


For the time being, the majority of Cabinet seats are empty, or more precisely, they are occupied by acting ministers. Meanwhile, Boris Yeltsin has already confirmed by decree the structure of the new government, which is more like Victor Chernomyrdin's than that of Sergei Kiriyenko. Once again an inspiring squad of six deputy prime ministers, including two first deputy prime ministers, will be put forward.


Izvestia, Sept. 24


Reds Watch Their Man


On Monday, the Communists announced their strategic plans for the planned all-Russian protest on Oct. 7. The main surprise is the renewal of the slogan "Give us a government that can be trusted by the nation."


In the words of the Communist Party's deputy leader, Valentin Kuptsov, "it is wrong to call the current government a center-left one," which means his party is not satisfied with it, and that the Communists feel offended: "Not one proposal for the government's composition was forthcoming from the White House."


And apparently not even Maslyukov was put forward at their initiative. At the last plenum of the party's Central Committee it was decided that if the course of the new government does not fit into the party program and correspond with its ideals, the party will demand that Maslyukov leave the government in six months' time.


Noviye Izvestia, Sept. 22


Honeymoon Syndrome


In Russia, new governments are formed all the time, although there is no one to ask about their failures. Meanwhile, the prestige of a government post and central power as a whole is falling all the time. Naturally, in the knowledge that the honeymoon period won't last long, certain ministers worked vigorously, not so much for the common good but for their own personal gain. Of course, occupying a place in government for a long time is itself no guarantee of success, but if the occupants of the White House continue as before to change so rapidly we are even less likely to see real accomplishments. Can Primakov's Cabinet break this vicious circle? Or is this just another tiresome trick dog routine?


On the one hand, Yevgeny Maximovich has a real chance to succeed. The all-powerful enemies of previous governments are not a cause for real worry any more. For the time being the Duma loves the current prime minister. The president is too weak to have any major new shake-up in the White House, and the oligarchs are too weak at the moment and are busy licking their wounds. The icy breath of crisis has had a sobering effect on the ruling forces of this world. When everyone's well-being is on the line, no one is likely to rock the boat.


But even if it is still possible to justify gathering people of such diverse convictions into the Cabinet, certain team changes made by Yevgeny Maximovich cannot be explained without cynicism, such as his [attempted] appointment of Vladimir Ryzhkov as deputy prime minister in charge of social affairs. ? There can only be one intent behind this appointment, and that is to feed off the young politician's popularity for a few months and win a little extra time.


Moskovsky Komsomolets, Sept. 22


Value of a Leader


What does a Russian value in the country's leader? His ability to keep prices down? The dollar rate? Timely payment of wages? Yes, but the most important thing in a leader is the overall impression he makes.


Judging by the results of a survey by the Public Opinion polling organization, Yevgeny Primakov is just the ticket in this respect, with 70 percent of respondents saying that he makes a favorable impression. How? Just generally, of course f even though only 45 percent of those polled believe that he and his government can pull the country out of crisis.


In other words, the impression he makes is a separate entity to his policies, which would be absolutely in keeping with the Russian spirit. Take Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznyov, a real man of the people, who yesterday welcomed the first steps of the Cabinet of ministers. Which ones in particular, he couldn't say, but acknowledging nevertheless that "Yevgeny Primakov is engaged in the intricate work of forming a united team from people of different positions. "


Segodnya, Sept. 25