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Russia: Government Clarifies New Appointment

Moscow, 16 September 1996 (RFE/RL) --A senior Russian government official says the appointment of a new privatization minister by Russia's prime minister is not connected with a transfer of powers before of President Boris Yeltsin's surgery.

Prime Minister Viktor Chernomirdin last week appointed Alfred Koch as Russia's new privatization chief. Past privatization ministers have been appointed only by presidential decrees.

The deputy head of the Russian government justice departement, Vladimir Kuzmin, told RFE/RL Friday that Yeltsin signed a decree in August making the prime minister responsible for the appointment of Russia's privatization chief.

Koch was appointed first deputy privatization minister in 1995, and was serving as acting privatization minister before his appointment yesterday. He replaces Alexander Kazakov, who left the post after the presidential election and was appointed first deputy head of Yeltsin's staff.

The appointment of Koch by Chernomirdin and not by Yeltsin had prompted new speculations in Moscow on the transfer of powers from Yeltsin to Chernomyrdin. It is the first appointment signed by Chernomyrdin since Yeltsin issued a decree this week which transfers temporary control of the so-called security ministries to the prime minister as Yeltsin awaits a heart operation later this month.