Moscow, 16 January 1998 (RFE/RL) - Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, chairing a meeting of a government commission, today announced he had re-destributed duties among his deputies. Itar-tass quotes Chernomyrdin as saying that from now on First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais will be in charge "of the entire economy."
The agency however said that Chernomrydin himself will oversee the Finance Ministry. Chubais was relieved of the post of Finance Minister last year following a scandal over controversial book fees. Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Bulgak will be entrusted with relations with the media, which until now were also Chubais' responsibility.
Itar-Tass said Chernomyrdin will also take overall control over the Fuel and Power Ministry, whose work until now was overseen by the other First Deputy Prime Minister in the government, Boris Nemtsov. Chernomyrdin will also oversee the army, police and security service, as well as the state-run arms manufacturer "Rozvooruzheniye".
Top Kremlin spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky said later today that the reshuffle in duties between cabinet members had been approved by President Boris Yeltsin.
Chernomyrdin dismissed reports he was sick but said he still might take a break after President Boris Yeltsin, now on holiday, returns to work. Yeltsin is expected to be back at the Kremlin on Monday.
Reports yesterday said Chernomyrdin was at a sanatorium outside Moscow. A government spokesman later dismissed them saying Chernomyrdin was at a country residence working on documents. In televised remarks later today, Chernomyrdin said he had indeed been at the Barvikha sanatorium but had been working. Chernomyrdin also said he had undergone recent medical checks but they were routine.