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Russia: Primakov Nomination Gets Strong Support From Duma

Moscow, 10 September 1998 (RFE/RL) - Russia's opposition-led lower house today had an overwhelmingly positive reaction to President Boris Yeltsin's nomination of Yevgeny Primakov as the country's new prime minister. The Duma leadership decided the lower house will hold a vote on Primakov tomorrow. Russian stock prices rose by about 7.5 percent on the news of Primakov's nomination as investors slowed in selling. The ruble, meanwhile, rallied for a second day, strengthening to 12.85 to the dollar.

Yeltsin earlier in the day formally asked the Duma to confirm Primakov, a veteran diplomat and acting Foreign Minister, as premier. Acting Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, who was Yeltsin's original choice for the post, withdrew his candidacy, saying he did not want to split the country. The Duma had twice rejected Chernomyrdin and a third rejection raised the possiblity of the chamber being dissolved and early elections called.

Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznyov said Primakov's nomination was "the most reasonable" option. Communist party leader Gennady Zyuganov said "common sense had prevailed" and that Primakov is "a consolidating figure." But nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky said Primakov was "pro-American" and that no government under him would cope with Russia's crisis.

Acting Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev also said the nomination was the right move. But acting Deputy Prime Minister Boris Fyodorov and Finance Minister Mikhail Zadornov declined to comment.

Chernomyrdin, speaking on national TV later in the day, charged that actions by the leftist opposition were aimed at what he called a "creeping coup" and restoring the Soviet order. Chernomyrdin also said Russia's new prime minister had only one path to follow and that was pursuing economic reform.

In an initial reaction, foreign leaders praised Primakov's nomination. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said in Bonn that Primakov deserves trust and that his adoption as prime minister would stabilize the situation. Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski also said the nomination was favorable.

Primakov today met a visiting delegation of EU diplomats. Peter Hohenfeller, an Austrian Foreign ministry senior official who heads the delegation, said after the meeting Primakov again underlined the importance of political and economic reforms in Russia. And in Bonn, a government spokesman said that in a telephone conversation, Yeltsin had assured German Chancellor Helmut Kohl that Primakov would stick to market reforms if confirmed.

The Kremlin today also announced Yeltsin had dismissed Andrei Kokoshin, the secretary of the powerful Security Council because "of a transfer to another job."