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    RUSSIAN ELITE ON NEW RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT

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    MOSCOW, March 10, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - Russian politicians, political experts, scientists and businessmen are commenting on the new Russian Cabinet. RIA Novosti presents an abridged version of their opinions published in the Russian Gazeta newspaper.

    Vladislav Reznik, deputy head of the United Russia faction, chairman of the State Duma committee for credit organizations and financial markets: "The government's economic bloc can be certainly described as the strongest in the new Russian history. They are active and professional people. I have no doubts that the proposed government will be able to fulfill the difficult and ambitious program voiced in the Duma by Mikhail Fradkov."

    Vladimir Pekhtin, State Duma deputy speaker from the United Russia party: "The much spoken about administrative reform has at last been launched. Instead of 30 ministries and departments there will be 17. As to the personnel, it is important that the key liberal ministers will remain in the government. On the one hand, this is succession and stability. On the other hand, the new government confirms the President's determination to carry out large-scale reform in the economy and social sphere. The new government will have to realize the President's new course for the next four years. First of all, it is doubling of the gross domestic product and fight against poverty."

    Evsei Gurvich, scientific leader of the Economic Expert Group: "I believe that the new government will continue the economic policy of the previous period. The people who conducted the liberal policy in the previous government have preserved their key positions. New Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov shares the opinions of the government's liberal wing."

    Valery Draganov, head of the State Duma committee for economic policy, entrepreneurship and tourism: "The government has become compact, parallel functions have been eliminated and the level of making decisions and carrying responsibility has been increased."

    Vladimir Ryzhkov, an MP: "Yes, it is the government I have expected. I am glad that there are no longer people in the Cabinet who combined posts in the government with protection of their own interests."

    Dmitry Oreshkin, head of the Merkator analytical group: "The President toughly controls the situation. He has built everything very rationally. He has left the economic bloc almost unchanged and let the elite understand that in reality he has limited interests of the government members outside their direct professional responsibilities. They should deal with the economy, nothing more."

    Boris Titov, board member of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs: "To a large degree my expectations have come true. The strong market bloc headed by German Gref will remain in the government. His ministry, strengthened by the functions of other departments, will continue the reforms."

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