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    GREF PRAISES MIKHAIL FRADKOV

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    MOSCOW, March 2, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - Russia's acting Minister of Economic Development and Trade German Gref praised the business and personal qualities of Mikhail Fradkov, President Vladimir Putin's nominee for the post of chairman of the Russian government.

    "I positively assess the submission of Mikhail Fradkov's candidature. As for his business and personal qualities, I would highly appraise them," Mr. Gref told journalists.

    Mr. Gref, a reformer in the previous government, said that he, "had worked with Mikhail Fradkov maybe, more than anyone else," because he charged Mr. Fradkov with affairs concerning foreign trade.

    "When he [Fradkov] became the president's envoy to the EU we gave him all of the powers to interact with the European Union. All of this was executed in detail. Since he became the envoy, the quality of talks on Russia's entry into the WTO has improved," Mr. Gref said.

    Mr. Gref said that he hoped the new government would succeed in fulfilling all of the plans "even more effectively" than the previous cabinet would have.

    The acting minister said, "everything will depend on how administrative reform will be carried out."

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