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Communist Gets Key Role in Russia

October 7, 1998

MOSCOW (AP) _ Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov today gave his Communist deputy broad powers over the new Cabinet’s economic course.

However, Primakov also plans to personally oversee the Finance Ministry, which suggests he wants to have final say on major economic decisions.

Primakov’s first deputy prime minister, Yuri Maslyukov, who served as the last head of the Soviet central planning agency, has pushed for full control over the economic-related ministries.

Maslyukov will be in charge of economics and trade ministries and various other bodies, including the committee for state property management that oversees privatization.

He also will oversee talks with the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other international lenders, the ITAR-Tass and Interfax news agencies reported today.

Liberal economists have been critical of Maslyukov, saying he is likely to opt for at least some Soviet-style controls on the economy.

But that could be difficult without cooperation from Primakov, who retains control of the finance, foreign, defense and interior ministries, as well as tax service and customs committee and several other agencies.

The Finance Ministry is in charge of preparing the budget and it also decides on how to spend the government’s money. The Economics Ministry deals with more general economic issues, such as overseeing various industries.

Primakov says he will continue with economic reforms, but opposes the ``wild capitalism″ that has characterized Russia’s moves toward a market economy.

The prime minister spoke on national television Tuesday, the eve of nationwide protests against the government, and assured Russians that the government would pay off all wage and pension arrears and prevent any shortage of basic foods.

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