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    WHAT THE RUSSIAN PAPERS SAY

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    March 2

    IZVESTIA

    In the light of President Putin's nomination of Mikhail Fradkov for the post of prime minister, Izvestia carries an interview with Valery Bogomolov, first deputy chairman of the United Russia faction in the State Duma, who said, in part:

    "The logic of the nomination is clear-cut: for the next four years of reforms, the president needs a man that can satisfy three demands.

    "First, Putin needs an astute economist and manager. Fradkov meets this requirement perfectly, as he has held many posts in many governments, has an economic education and is a good (some even say harsh) manager.

    "Second, to open a new chapter in the work of the government, the president needed a person with few, and preferably no, ties with or friendly obligations to the old economic elite. By sending Fradkov to Brussels as Russia's representative at the EU, the president deliberately removed Fradkov from the political limelight, so that the economic elite would forget about him and would not try to establish any ties with him. At the same time, Europe had the chance to see what Fradkov was all about, learning his stands and views.

    "And third, the premier should be a decent person. I have known Fradkov for a long time and can tell you that he meets this qualification. He is a democratic man, moderately liberal in economic terms, and corresponds 100% to the United Russia image of the prime minister. Like our party, he stands on two pillars: moderate liberalism for reforms, and respect for traditional Russian values."

    NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA

    The nomination of Mikhail Fradkov for prime minister was as much of a surprise as the dismissal of Mikhail Kasyanov, writes the newspaper. Fradkov was not mentioned in any of the numerous lists of candidates for the top government post, compiled with the assistance of political scientists and Kremlin sources. The last time Fradkov's name figured in the list of Russia's Top Hundred Politicians came about a year ago. Since then, his name has been almost forgotten.

    Putin's decision clearly shocked the leaders of United Russia, because the president had promised to rely on the opinion of the parliamentary majority when choosing the premier. Encouraged by that promise and invitations to the Kremlin for consultations, United Russia thought Boris Gryzlov would be the new prime minister. But Putin not only rejected their suggestion but also refused to share his ideas with the Duma majority. United Russia learnt about the president's decision on Monday, virtually at the same time as the rest of the country.

    VREMYA NOVOSTEI

    The nomination of Fradkov to the post of prime minister has not clarified the new economic policy and the outlook for a new cabinet. It is only clear that the president's nominee, who has come to Moscow from Brussels, has little bureaucratic room and time for formulating policy innovations. These, if they come about, will be formulated not by Fradkov but by the president (or those whom the president trusts). Indeed, the nominee has barely a week to submit his ideas about the structure and format of the new cabinet to Putin. Nobody, not even a super-hero, can invent something outstanding in the government development sphere in such a short time.

    GAZETA

    The paper published an article by Andrei Ryabov, Scholar-in-Residence, Moscow Carnegie Center:

    "The appointment of Mikhail Fradkov is a clear-cut signal to those political and business quarters in Russia and the West which expect that economic and market reforms to be at the top of the agenda of the new cabinet. By nominating him, Vladimir Putin probably wanted to show that he would not like to rely only on law enforcement and security structures and to set himself against other groups of interest. In other words, the choice of Fradkov can be interpreted as a compromise. It was probably why some observers hastened to describe the new premier as a technocrat. They mean that he would be quickly replaced when the situation changes along with the lineup of forces in the Kremlin. But this logic is not convincing. Practice shows that there is nothing more permanent and stable in the Russian political system than 'temporary' and 'technical' elements. Four years ago, our politicians and experts described Kasyanov and his government as 'technical', too."

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