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Monday, 8 May, 2000, 11:41 GMT 12:41 UK
Russia's next PM: Mikhail Kasyanov
Mr Kasyanov (left) was chosen within hours of Mr Putin's inauguration
Mr Kasyanov (left) was chosen within hours of Mr Putin's inauguration
Russia's new acting Prime Minister, Mikhail Kasyanov, is a liberal economist and a technocrat with a good reputation among Western investors.

He is well-known in the West from his work over several years as Russia's chief debt negotiator - and he won praise at home in February for a major debt-rescheduling deal sealed with private creditors on favourable terms.


I don't have any concrete ties to any particular financial-industrial group

Mikhail Kasyanov
As first deputy prime minister since January, he has been in charge of day-to-day running of the government and President Vladimir Putin is likely to keep him in that role - primarily as a manager rather than a policy-maker.

It is widely expected that the president will confirm Mr Kasyanov as his choice for prime minister by submitting his name to the parliament for approval on Wednesday.

New generation

"It's not yet known whose name will be in the president's letter," parliamentary chairman Gennady Seleznyov said on Monday, "but we can guess who it will be."


Streamliner: Putin sees Kasyanov as a
Streamliner: Putin sees Kasyanov as a "strong co-ordinator"
It is predicted that the parliament would approve Mr Kasyanov without hesitation - Mr Seleznyov said deputies had no "allergy" towards him.

Russian sources describe Mr Kasyanov as "100% loyal" to the new president, and predict that the two men will work closely together on economic strategy.

Mr Putin has yet to present an economic programme and has no training in economics, though - as he emphasised in his inauguration speech - one of his major objectives is to make Russia "prosperous".


Kasyanov's career
1957: born
1990: Economics Ministry
1993: Finance Ministry
1999, May: finance minister
2000, January: first deputy prime minister
2000, February: London Club debt-rescheduling deal
2000, May: acting prime minister
Mr Kasyanov, meanwhile, has spent 10 years in the economics and finance ministries, but has little experience in other spheres of politics.

His appointment as acting Prime Minister consolidates a shift in Russia towards a younger generation of political leaders.

Aged 42, he is Mr Putin's junior by five years, and a fluent English-speaker.

Born in 1957, he graduated from Moscow's Automobile and Road Institute, and later worked at Gosplan, the Soviet Union's all-powerful economic planning agency.

He worked in Russia's Economics Ministry from 1990 to 1993, when he joined the Finance Ministry, later becoming Russia's "Mr Debt".

He moved rapidly up the ministry's ranks, becoming deputy Minister, then first deputy minister, and finally minister of finance in May 1999.

Independence

He held on to this post when he was appointed first deputy prime minister in January.


Kasyanov: an energetic negotiator
Kasyanov: an energetic negotiator
Mr Putin, who had then just taken over as acting President, described him as a "strong co-ordinator" who would help to streamline economic policy.

Most observers see Mr Kasyanov as a figure independent of Russia's financial clans who will help Mr Putin eradicate the political influence of the country's super-rich tycoons, or "oligarchs".

"I know a lot of businessmen and well-known entrepreneurs, but I don't have any concrete ties to any particular financial-industrial group," he told a press conference in early April.

A minority of analysts have, nonetheless, suggested that Mr Kasyanov is close to the oligarch, Boris Berezovsky, who exercised a major influence over President Boris Yeltsin's inner circle.

Investor's choice

Mr Kasyanov has been tipped as Russia's most likely future prime minister at least since Mr Putin's election as president in March.

At that time one Moscow-based financial analyst described him as "the most acceptable candidate for investors".

On Sunday one Western businessman described him as "a man who has great energy, who does not take 'No' for an answer".

During his tenure as first deputy prime minister he has been fortunate enough to preside over an economy buoyed by high oil prices - with low inflation, a stable rouble and rising output.

However, analysts say further economic reform is necessary if the economy is to flourish in the long term.

The government also faces further talks on debt, this time with the Paris Club of creditor governments.

Talks with the International Monetary Fund on a resumption of its lending programme - stalled since the Russian financial crisis of August 1998 - are also on the agenda. They will call upon all Mr Kasyanov's celebrated powers of negotiation.

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See also:

07 May 00 | Europe
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