Yeltsin OKs new Cabinet much like one led by reformer Gaidar

December 24, 1992|By New York Times News Service

MOSCOW -- President Boris N. Yeltsin approved yesterday Cabinet put together by Prime Minister Viktor S. Chernomyrdin that, with a few exceptions, is a replica of the much-maligned government led by Yegor T. Gaidar, a young, reform-minded economist.

In holding together the core of the Gaidar team, the Russian leader has accomplished a goal he set with great flair last weekend when he cut short a trip to China to take charge of the appointments.

Mr. Chernomyrdin, a 54-year-old Soviet-era technocrat, became prime minister a week ago, when a conservative majority at the Congress of People's Deputies forced Mr. Yeltsin to abandon Mr. Gaidar. The economist's yearlong efforts to put the Russian economy on a market footing have contributed to high inflation, a sharp drop in production and a rise in popular discontent.

In the last week, Mr. Chernomyrdin, a gas industry manager who joined the Gaidar government last spring, has hinted that he will steer economic policy along more conservative lines, increasing support for ailing state-owned industries and for spending on social services.

But the list of Cabinet members, prepared to meet a deadline set by Mr. Yeltsin, suggests that Russian economic policy will remain in a holding pattern, at least for a while. Several of Mr. Gaidar's deputies are to remain, including Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr N. Shokhin; Anatoly B. Chubais, who leads the privatization program; and Economy Minister Andrei A. Nechalyev.

Keeping the inner core of the Gaidar government had become a test not only of Mr. Yeltsin's authority and Mr. Chernomyrdin's commitment to economic reform, but also of Russia's credibility in the West as Moscow bargains for a rescheduling of its $80 billion foreign debt and for more vigorous foreign investment.

Of Mr. Gaidar's team, only Pyotr Aven, the minister for foreign economic relations, is gone, having resigned Tuesday. But yesterday his deputy, Sergei Y. Glazyev, was named to succeed him, suggesting a continuity of policy and personnel in a sensitive ministry.

Even Foreign Minister Andrei B. Kozyrev, who has also come under attack by the right, was reappointed. But under a new law approved this week, the legislature must now vote on the president's appointees at the foreign, defense, interior and security ministries.

Mr. Yeltsin, whose political power was badly weakened after his battles with the Congress, regained some ground Tuesday when legislators gave him the sole right to dismiss the prime minister. That has restored some of his authority over the prime minister, whose loyalties are still not completely clear.

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