Moscow, 20 November 1997 (RFE/RL) - Russian President Boris Yeltsin today replaced Boris Nemtsov as the country's Fuel and Energy Minister but retained him as one of two First Deputy Prime Ministers. The move follows the removal earlier today of Anatoly Chubais as Finance Minister, who retained his post as First Deputy Prime Minister.
Chubais was replaced at the Finance Ministry by liberal economist Mikhail Zadornov. Nemtsov is being replaced by Sergei Kiriyenko, who previously served as Nemtsov's first deputy.
Yesterday, Yeltsin approved a proposal that deputy prime ministers should not head individual ministries. Yeltsin's decision followed allegations that Chubais had taken concealed kickbacks for privatization deals. The Communist-led opposition had demanded Chubais' ouster threatening to block passage of a draft 1998 budget.
Today, Communist party leader Gennady Zyuganov welcomed Zadornov's appointment as new Finance Minister. However, he said the communists would still vote against the budget at a Duma discussion originally planned for tomorrow. The Duma later decided to postpone the budget debate until early next month.
Grigory Yavlinsky, leader of the liberal Yabloko group, announced that Zadornov, a member of the group, has withdrawn from Yabloko. At a meeting yesterday Yabloko voted not to accept posts in the widely-expected Cabinet reshuffle.