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Russia: Yeltsin Says Government Reshuffle Possible

Moscow, 24 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - Russian President Boris Yeltsin has spoken of a possible government reshuffle or restructuring, after opinion polls show most Russians dissatisfied with their government.

In remarks broadcast on Russian television, Yeltsin told his Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin today that possibly some changes were in order. He said opinion polls showed most Russians dissatisfied with the work of the government and said the government could not cope with one of the country's thorniest issues -- wage arrears.

Yeltsin, who is still recovering from pneumonia and heart bypass surgery, called on the prime minister to reshuffle the cabinet it that's what it take to solve the problem.

Chernomyrdin told Yeltsin he agreed with him, but said regional authorities were partly to blame for social problems.

Also today, Yeltsin gave high praise to the work of the country's constitutional court, calling it the guarantor of Russia's constitution.

Itar-tass says he was speaking today in Moscow after meeting with the newly-appointed chairman of the court, Marat Baglai. The Russian president said "in no case" should the present constitution be modified or amended. He said it was "unacceptable" that some judges sitting on the court had criticized it.

Baglai, who was elected chairman of the court last week, has said he would not seek changes to the constitution and called it an "icon" of documents.

The constitution was drafted in 1993 in the wake of Yeltsin's showdown with the old Russian parliament which he dissolved. The document greatly increased the Russsian president's powers, among which are the right to dissolve parliament, and to rule by decree.

Meanwhile, the Federation Council committee said today it would consider Yeltsin's nominee, Mikahail Fedotov, for a vacancy on the court next month. Fedotov served as Russia's representative to UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization). Nineteen judges sit on Russia's constitutional court, all of whom are nominated by the president and then confirmed by the Federation Council, the upper house of the parliament.