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    PUTIN: CABINET RESIGNATION TO BE A PURE FORMALITY

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    MOSCOW, March 9, 2004 (RIA Novosti correspondent) - Once re-elected for a second term, Vladimir Putin promises to make the cabinet resignation procedure a pure formality.

    The Russian leader said this on Tuesday to the new government members.

    "We will rid the country of the inevitable, lengthy and harmful period of portfolio distribution," said the head of state.

    Putin also said, "shortly after the presidential elections, this team will finally take over the mission to further improve the welfare of our citizens.

    Today we are completing what was planned two weeks ago. The essence is not to merge [the ministries] but to make the ministries more effective and influential, more dynamic and independent.

    The role of the government staff is being modified. It will be transformed from the nearly shadow cabinet to an effective and modern instrument of administration.

    This is not done to inflate the pride of those present but to raise the personal responsibility of each appointed minister over his area of work.

    If I win the March 14 elections, this cabinet will assume the entire responsibility, which is the government's competence, according to the Constitution."

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