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Background of Key Russian Figures

March 23, 1998

Thumbnail sketches of key figures in Russia’s government:

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Viktor Chernomyrdin, 59 _ Prime minister from December 1992 until his dismissal Monday. A former head of the huge natural gas monopoly Gazprom, Chernomyrdin was seen as a classic bureaucrat and a stable helmsman steering a middle course for reform.

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Anatoly Chubais, 42 _ Deputy prime minister from November 1994 to January 1996 and first deputy prime minister for the past year. Chubais has been Russia’s leading advocate of market reforms since 1991, when he became architect of Russia’s privatization program. He is respected by Western economists, but widely reviled by Russians, who blame him for the economic hardships many have faced.

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Boris Nemtsov, 38 _ Deputy prime minister from March 1997 until Monday. Nemtsov was former governor of Nizhny Novgorod region and the golden boy of Russian politics until recently, when his image as a dynamic young reformer seemed tarnished by infighting and the perception that he was ineffective.

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Sergei Kirienko, 35 _ Fuel and energy minister from November 1997 until Monday, when he was named acting prime minister. A little known figure, Kirienko ran an oil business in Nizhny Novgorod before joining the fuel and energy ministry as a deputy in July 1997.

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Anatoly Kulikov, 51 _ Interior minister from July 1995 until Monday. Kulikov, a career soldier, has been widely criticized for his role as commander of Russian troops in Chechnya during the 1994-96 war in the breakaway republic. As interior minister, he has struggled to control crime and presided over a buildup of internal troops.

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