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    STATE DUMA DEPUTY SPEAKER: NEW GOVERNMENT TO BE FORMED AFTER PRESIDENT'S INAUGURATION

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    MOSCOW, February 24, 2004. (RIA Novosti correspondent) - When commenting on today's decision of the Russian President to discharge the government, first deputy speaker of the State Duma (the lower chamber of the Russian parliament) Lyubov Sliska pointed out that everything had been done legally and in compliance with the Constitution.

    "It is the President's right to discharge the government and it is his right to decide what government the country needs," she said.

    She supposes that the President will have enough time to determine what government is necessary to fulfill the tasks the country is facing, including within the administrative reform.

    The presidential elections are due in 19 days, Sliska recalled. In this connection she supposed that formation of a new Cabinet could be considered immediately after the inauguration.

    "It is no coincidence that in his speech the head of state mentioned the administrative reform, which, in my opinion, has been a little delayed," the first deputy speaker emphasized.

    For the first time the question of reducing the excessive functions of ministries and departments was raised two years ago, when it was debated in the Economic Development and Trade Ministry, she recalled.

    At the same time, instead of reducing their functions some ministries and departments spoke in favor of extending their powers, Sliska emphasized. "Of course, no budget can bear such a number of officials," she stressed.

    Today's statement of the President came as a surprise for her, she added. "Today we had a meeting with Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov scheduled, where we were to discuss the plan of the State Duma's law-making work for March and the whole spring session," she explained.

    "However, 20 minutes before the meeting we received an apology and were told that it would not take place," Sliska said.

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