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Friday, September 11, 1998 Published at 21:11 GMT 22:11 UK


All the prime minister's men

The new government has to deal with a crisis that has led many Russian to desperation

The lower house of the Russian parliament, the Duma, has approved Yevgeni Primakov as the country's prime minister, ending three weeks of uncertainty.

Russia crisis
The 'number 2'

Mr Primakov appointed Yuri Maslyukov, the former head of the Soviet state-planning agency, Gosplan, as his first deputy prime minister.


[ image:  ]
He became head of Gosplan under the last Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev and he served as first deputy prime minister and a member of the Soviet politburo until its demise in 1991.

In July 1998 he was appointed trade and industry minister in the government of Sergei Kiriyenko.

Correspondents say that although Mr Maslyukov is considered as a moderate communist, Western economists are suspicious of his past as head of Gosplan.

Foreign ministry

Mr Primakov named his successor in the post of foreign minister as Igor Ivanov - who was previously first deputy foreign minister.

Correspondents say Mr Ivanov is a career diplomat and a former ambassador to Spain.

He is described as very loyal to Mr Primakov and he is expected to maintain his line of defending Russian national interests and building closer ties with China, Japan, India and other developing countries.

He was also involved in efforts to bring peace to former Yugoslavia.

Russian Central Bank

Earlier the Duma approved a top Soviet-era official, Viktor Gerashchenko, as the new chairman of the Central Bank.


[ image: Westerners are worried that Viktor Gerashchenko might print more mone to deal with the crisis]
Westerners are worried that Viktor Gerashchenko might print more mone to deal with the crisis
Mr Gerashchenko had served as chairman of the Soviet central bank from 1989 until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

He then became chairman of the Russian central bank for two years, until the rouble lost about 30% of its value in one day - the so called "Black Tuesday".

Outlining his policies before the vote, Mr Gerashchenko said his priority was to restore banking system liquidity and save those banks which were still viable.

Correspondents say that many Western experts take a dim view of Mr Gerashchenko, especially as he is under pressure from the Duma to print more money.

But the new chairman of the Russian Central Bank, has recently won praise from commercial bankers who say they like his commitment to reforms without a blind conviction that market forces can regulate matters by themselves.

Defence ministry

Mr Primakov reappointed the defence minister, Igor Sergeyev.

He has held this post since 1997.

He was head of the Russian Strategic Forces, overseeing wide scale reforms in the Army.

Interior ministry

Mr Primakov also reappointed Sergei Stepashin as Interior Minister.

He has served as justice minister.

Correspondents say he was a fierce supporter of the war in Chechnya.

He has also served in the Russian secret service, the former KGB, and in 1994 became the director of its successor, the FSB.



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