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Russia: Yeltsin Convinced Duma Will Confirm Primakov Today

Moscow, 11 September 1998 (RFE/RL) - Russian President Boris Yeltsin said today he is confident that Yevgeny Primakov will be confirmed as prime minister. Yeltsin said in a national television address that Primakov can rely on support from both the Kremlin and parliament. The lower house of parliament, the State Duma, is scheduled to vote on Primakov's candidacy for the premiership today. Yeltsin also said he is confident Primakov will be able to pull Russia out of its economic crisis. He said the government will need to reduce prices, restore the banking system and protect savings. He urged Russians to be patient with their hardships.

Yeltsin nominated Primakov, a veteran diplomat and acting foreign minister, to the premiership yesterday, after his initial choice, Viktor Chernomyrdin, was rejected twice by the Duma. At talks with Yeltsin today, Chernomyrdin vowed to back Primakov.

Primakov told political leaders prior to the confirmation debate and vote that his government would need time to tackle Russia's economic problems. The Communists, who lead the largest bloc in the Duma, reiterated they will back Primakov in the Duma vote.

The Kremlin announced today that Yeltsin has proposed former Central bank chairman Viktor Gerashchenko as the new head of the bank. And Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov said he and Primakov had agreed that Yuri Maslyukov, a Soviet-era economic official, will join the government as first deputy prime minister.

Also today, Russia's Deputy Finance Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said Russia will take steps to make its outstanding interest payments to Germany and some other creditor countries.

Kasyanov said Russia will make full payments as soon as tax and customs tariff revenues are back to normal. He said Russia was observing other sovereign debt payments on their due dates.

The German Finance Ministry earlier today said Russia had missed almost all of a payment equivalent to $475 million. It was due August 20.