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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kremlin Appeals for Cabinet Peace




President Boris Yeltsin on Friday told members of his new Cabinet not to quarrel among themselves, and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned ministers against being drawn into the parliamentary election campaign.


Political passions are rising in Moscow ahead of December's election to the State Duma, or lower house of parliament, but Yeltsin and Putin said they wanted the government to stay focused on the economy.


"You and Aksyonenko, don't fight," an unusually robust and cheerful-looking Yeltsin told First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko during a televised meeting in the Kremlin.


Yeltsin was referring to a tussle for influence between Khristenko and the other first deputy prime minister, Nikolai Aksyonenko, both of whom were reappointed Thursday to the posts they had held under former Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin.


"We do not fight," replied Khristenko, who looks after macroeconomic issues, including loans from the International Monetary Fund. Aksyonenko oversees industrial policy.


Yeltsin also told Khristenko to work smoothly with Finance Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, also reappointed Thursday.


"You won't have disagreements with him [Kasyanov]," Yeltsin said. "There will be good contacts; there will be order."


The president is keen to avoid the tensions which marred the formation of Stepashin's Cabinet, sacked earlier this month after just three months in office.


Government unity has become more important ahead of December's Duma election and next summer's presidential poll. Yeltsin has said he wants Putin to succeed him as president, but the stern-looking former KGB spy lacks electoral appeal.


During a visit to the ancient town of Novgorod, Putin indicated there may be some imminent changes in the government. The prime minister said he will meet with Mikhail Zadornov, the presidential representative to the international financial organizations discuss the prospects for his future work in this capacity, Interfax reported Friday.


"I don't know how Zadornov feels about this," Putin said, adding that Zadornov had "acted bravely" and made a contribution to solving Russia's economic problems.


Putin also made clear he would not tolerate political shenanigans.


"The government must not support any political group. It must stay above these political battles and focus on concrete economic tasks," he said in televised remarks.


"If any member of the government did get involved in politics, I would regard it as a breach of Cabinet discipline."


Yeltsin's camp has been worried by the emergence of a powerful new left-leaning bloc led by popular former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov and Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov. However, Kremlin efforts to forge a center-right bloc as a counterweight have so far come to nothing.


The government has many problems, including pushing its 2000 draft budget through the Duma, restructuring the ailing bank sector and paying debts to creditors like the IMF.


Alexander Livshits, a minister and presidential envoy to the Group of Seven leading industrial nations, said the budget was tough and meant Russia could pay as much of its foreign debt as possible.