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Yeltsin, Stepashin Review Cabinet

May 24, 1999

MOSCOW (AP) _ Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin flew to southern Russia today to confer with Boris Yeltsin on doling out the remaining posts in the new Cabinet.

The Russian president, who has final say in the makeup of the government, abruptly went to the Black Sea resort town of Sochi for a vacation last Friday before completing the new Cabinet.

Although Yeltsin reinstated many of his old ministers, a few critical spots remain empty, including finance minister and deputy prime minister in charge of the economy.

Stepashin has said he wants to retain Mikhail Zadornov as finance minister and give Alexander Zhukov the deputy premier role, and that the Cabinet should be complete by the end of the week.

But Stepashin has stressed that he will defer to Yeltsin in all Cabinet decisions.

Yeltsin’s vacation came after he scored a major political victory over the lower house of parliament, the State Duma. He fired the government on May 12, faced down an attempt by the lower chamber to impeach him on May 15, and then watched as the body quickly approved Stepashin as the new prime minister on Wednesday.

Stepashin, accompanied by Yeltsin’s chief of staff, Alexander Voloshin, stopped off early today in the republic of Karachayevo-Cherkessia, where a vote to elect a regional leader has become embroiled in controversy.

Tensions have mounted in the region near breakaway Chechnya after the losing candidate accused his opponent of rigging the balloting. The apparent winner has asked the Russian Supreme Court to review the vote.

Stepashin met briefly with both candidates in an effort to defuse the situation, and then continued on to Sochi. Upon arrival, he and Voloshin flew by helicopter to Yeltsin’s residence.

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