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 You are in: Special Report: 1998: 03/98: Russian crisis  
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EDITIONS
Russian crisis Friday, 24 April, 1998, 12:45 GMT 13:45 UK
Profile of Russia's new prime minister
Take the chair: commentators predict Mr Kiriyenko may be in for a rough ride even as a temporary PM.
His critics have said he is young and inexperienced
Mr Kiriyenko has a reputation of backing reform, and is a close ally of the First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov.

Experts say his government would most likely continue in the same vein as the previous government, but with a slightly harder reformist line.

But Mr Kiriyenko has also indicated a willingness to make more social concessions to miners and other workers who have not received any wages for months.

"The most urgent problems are wages, pensions, the government's appropriate response to the fall of oil and gas prices... and the situation in the coal industry," said the 35-year old former banker on his election as acting prime minister.

Whatever his programme ahead, his battle for selection by the Russian lower house of parliament, the Duma, should have prepared him for some tough battles ahead.

His surprise nomination for prime minister by President Boris Yeltsin had been fiercely opposed by the Communists, who accused him of being too young and inexperienced.

But Mr Yeltsin insisted that age was not a relevant consideration.

"The age of the ministers who will work in the new government does not play a crucial role. You can have good ministers at 30 and 70.

"What is important is that a person knows his job, has fresh ideas and original approaches," he said.

Past career

Sergei Kiriyenko has been a government minister for less than a year, and commentators say he is not part of the 'Moscow establishment'.

Mr Kiriyenko took over from Mr Nemtsov last November as head of the fuel and energy ministry, a key earner of foreign currency.

He pushed forward with auctions of state property such as oil firm Rosneft, and was one of the driving forces behind a plan to agree specific limits for energy use by various branches of government which had neglected to pay their bills.

At the same time, Mr Kiriyenko won the support of some of the less reform-minded ministers, such as former prime minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin.

In a recent visit to the Siberian coal industry, Mr Kiriyenko showed his sympathy for the miners by recommending that the government should concentrate on supporting the area's social safety net, and let the companies focus on business.

Early days

He was born on July 26, 1962 in Sukhumi, Georgia, and graduated in 1984, having specialised in shipbuilding.

He got his first taste of leadership as first-secretary of the Communist Youth League in the town of Gorky.

By this time, perestroika and glasnost were already breaking down the old ideological certainties, and Mr Kiriyenko made the most of the new opportunities.

Gorky became Nizhny Novgorod - a region which has since become known as a centre of economic reform.

Boris Nemtsov was, at that time, governor of Nizhny Novgorod and under his tutelage, Mr Kiriyenko founded his own bank, and became chairman of a small oil company in Nizhny.

He was appointed first-deputy Fuel and Energy minister in November 1997, and was promoted to full minister one week later.

He is married and has two children.

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