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Russia: Leaders React To Government Dismissals

Moscow, 24 March 1998 (RFE/RL) -- Russia's new cabinet is likely to be a reformist team of professionals and not a coalition of political parties, a Russian parliamentary leader said today. Duma deputy speaker Vladimir Ryzhkov, speaking at a news conference after meeting acting Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko, suggested that most ministers from the outgoing cabinet would keep their jobs. Ryzhkov, a member of the Our Home is Russia movement headed by former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, also said Chernomyrdin is very likely to stand in the next presidential elections due in 2000. Ryzhkov said a decision had not been made yet but the probability was "very, very high."

Government spokesman Igor Shabdurasulov said the government sacking could destabilize the situation in Russia, which he said was characterized by a tough struggle between political parties both inside the Duma and outside parliament, and a difficult economic situation.

Sergei Shakrai, Yeltsin's representative to the Constitutional Court, said the communist-dominated Duma will not support Yeltsin's first choice for a new prime minister before an April 9 nationwide protest action. Under the Constitution, the president is to present the Duma with a new candidate within two weeks of sacking the government and the Duma must debate the candidature within a week.

Meanwhile in Tajikistan, presidential spokesman Zafar Saidov said the Russian government change will not affect bilateral relations. Saidov said the "civilized, painless" change was illustrative of the democratic maturity of the Russian state.

Our Kazakh correspondent cited Altay Tleuberdin, an aide to Kazakhstan's president Nursultan Nazarbayev, as expressing the hope that the Russian government change will not affect negatively the direction of Russian-Kazakh cooperation in all spheres. A number of issues, including the Caspian Sea's legal status and payments for the lease of the Baikonur launching pad, are awaiting settlement between Russia and Kazakhstan.

A Russian official said military commanders in Russia's breakaway republic of Chechnya were praising Allah for the dismissal of Interior Minister Anatoly Kulikov. In televised remarks, the Russian commander-in-chief of Interior Ministry troops, Colonel-General Leonty Shevtsov, would not comment on Kulikov's dismissal.