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    RUSSIAN POLITICIANS SPEAK OUT ON PRESIDENT-ADVANCED CANDIDATE FOR PREMIER

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    MOSCOW, March 1, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - Russian politicians noted the utter professionalism of Mikhail Fradkov, whom the president advanced for the post of Russian prime minister.

    "He is an appropriate candidate," said Aleksander Zhukov, First Vice-Speaker of the State Duma, parliament's lower house.

    "I have known Mikhail Fradkov for 20 years now, since we worked together at the ministry of foreign economic relations. He is a highly qualified, experienced, efficient and an altogether decent person," said Mr. Zhukov.

    Duma First Vice-Speaker Lyubov Sliska said "Fradkov is, undoubtedly, a serious figure" with "innovative economic thinking." Ms. Sliska said Mr. Fradkov would propose an utterly new structure of the government. "The government will pursue a new, effective course," Ms. Sliska said in an interview with RIA Novosti.

    Mr. Fradkov, who is right to the centre liberal, will promote the administrative reform designed to cut ministerial duties, suggested Ms. Sliska.

    To Ms. Sliska the candidature of Mr Fradkov came as a pleasant surprise.

    Duma Vice-Speaker Vladimir Pekhtin approves of Mr. Fradkov as a candidate for premier. According to him, Mr. Fradkov is an expert in economics, who has a clear vision of both foreign economic and domestic problems. Mr. Fradkov has a good apprehension of financial and tax issues.

    According to Mr. Pekhtin, a prime minister must be an honest, scrupulous man without links to different narrow interest groups, while Mikhail Fradkov has the appropriate qualities.

    Sergei Mironov, Speaker of the Federation Council, or the upper house of parliament, said the news had come as an utter surprise. Mr. Mironov is visiting Irkutsk, Siberia, now.

    "I had secured a list of possible candidates as I knew the news would come when I was in Irkutsk and I would be asked for comment. However, this candidature is utterly unexpected to me. I am not ready to comment," said Mr. Mironov.

    Mikhail Margelov, chief of the Federation Council foreign affairs committee, described Mr. Fradkov as "a totally balanced personality." "There won't be any fluctuations with Fradkov as premier," said the senator.

    Mr. Margelov said he had had to deal with Mr. Fradkov in the last few months, when he led Russia's permanent delegation to the EU. "The ability to remain positive during any debates is Mikhail Fradkov's distinctive feature," he said.

    Mr. Margelov suggested that Russian society, as well as the international community, would approve of Mr. Fradkov in the capacity of premier. "Fradkov is not an "iron fist" fearsome for the West. Nor is he a liberal of 1991," according to the senator.

    Mr. Fradkov is a known figure in Europe and the United States. "He spent many months in Brussels, and Europe must have understood that Mr. Fradkov is an efficient person to deal with," noted Mr. Margelov. This candidate is capable of performing premier's duties.

    Pavel Krasheninnikov, in charge of the Duma civil, criminal and arbitration legislation, welcomed the president's decision to nominate Mr. Fradkov to the post. "I have known Mikhail Fradkov for more than 10 years now. We worked at the cabinet together," Mr. Krasheninnikov told reporters.

    "Fradkov is a decent person, who keeps his promises, and he is a liberal." The MP said he would support his candidature.

    "He is an economist with a good knowledge of law. He will do good to his country," said Mr. Krasheninnikov. He believes that with the advent of Mr. Fradkov the tax reforms will be carried on in Russia, while the country will move on towards the rule of law.

    "I believe he will cope with his new duties. His experience and the scale of thinking will help him in this," said Mr. Krasheninnikov, who hopes Mr. Fradkov will be a long-term appointee.

    Mr. Fradkov is not particularly inclined to resort to force in addressing problems, added Mr. Krasheninnikov.

    Yury Maslyukov, a Duma deputy and a vice-premier in the Yevgeny Primakov-led cabinet (1998-1999), said Mr. Fradkov was a reasonable choice. "Mikhail Fradkov is a worthy candidate as far as his business qualities go," Mr. Maslyukov told RIA Novosti.

    Mr. Fradkov oversaw foreign trade, headed the tax police and worked at the Security Council, which make a good service record, according to Mr. Maslyukov.

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