Conservative Tilt for Russian Government

RUSSIAN Premier Viktor Chernomyrdin announced the formation of a new government yesterday with a clearly more conservative tilt.

While pledging to continue the reform policies of the previous government, Mr. Chernomyrdin also made it clear he was rejecting the tough anti-inflation policies associated with reformers Yegor Gaidar and Finance Minister Boris Fyodorov.

``We will continue reforms and deepen reforms,'' the former Soviet gas industry executive told reporters. But he added that ``the period of market romanticism has ended in the country.''

The struggle to control inflation remains the priority of the government, Chernomyrdin said, but added that ``we will use non-monetarist means of fighting inflation.''

Mr. Fyodorov has been offered to remain finance minister but not on the terms that Fyodorov had set. Fyodorov had demanded the ouster of Central Bank chairman Viktor Geraschenko and the demotion of Agrarian Party leader Alexander Zaveryukha, who is in charge of agriculture policy, from the post of deputy premier.

The composition of the government reflects this conservative tilt. The four deputy premiers include fellow former Soviet industry veteran Oleg Soskovets, Mr. Zaveryukha, moderate Yuri Yarov, with privatization head Anatoly Chubais as the sole Gaidar-allied reformer. Moderate reformer Alexander Shokhin replaces Mr. Gaidar as economics minister, while fellow moderate Sergei Shakhrai will be responsible for regional policy.

The government is likely to win the approval of the State Duma, where both the moderate reformers and Communist and Agrarian parties are likely to back it. But many predict that the government will face growing pressure from the Duma and internal turmoil as economic conditions worsen. ``I'm sure the government will not last longer than 2-3 months,'' predicts pro-reform deputy Vladimir Averchev.

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