Russian reshuffle brings `stability'

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The Independent Online
Viktor Chernomyrdin, the Russian Prime Minister, said yesterday his government was more stable than ever after a reshuffle that clipped the wings of leading young reformers.

But his liberal first deputy, Boris Nemtsov, cast doubt on Mr Chernomyrdin's optimism, saying the shake-up was the result of deep-rooted divisions over economic reform among Kremlin power brokers .

"Russia has entered a new stage of political maturity," Interfax news agency quoted Mr Chernomyrdin as saying. "The state is getting stronger and its role is growing in every sphere, especially in the economy."

The other first deputy prime minister, economic reform chief Anatoly Chubais, forecast a tough time for the man named to replace him as finance minister, particularly if world financial markets remain volatile.

President Boris Yeltsin relieved Mr Chubais, 42, and Mr Nemtsov, 38, of the finance and energy portfolios respectively following uproar over money Mr Chubais admitted taking in return for writing a book.

Russian newspapers believed that Mr Chernomyrdin, 59, in office for five years, had emerged the winner from the shake-up on Thursday.

- Reuters, Moscow

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