Gaidar fights off his critics

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MOSCOW - The Russian government's chief economist, Yegor Gaidar, yesterday parried a series of blows from conservative MPs attacking his radical economic reforms and appeared to have won himself and his President, Boris Yeltsin, some breathing space against their critics, writes Peter Pringle.

In the second day of the parliament's new session, MPs were advised by the speaker, Ruslan Khasbulatov, one of Mr Yeltsin's harshest critics, not to try and call a special session of the Congress of Peoples' Deputies, the highest legislative body, to consider impeachment of Mr Yeltsin for his handling of the Russian economy.

In addition, Mr Gaidar won unexpected support for his tough economic policies from the Vice-President, Alexander Rutskoi, a fierce critic of the cabinet, who said the economist should retain his post.