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    BRITISH PRESS POINTS TO INCREASED ROLE OF LIBERAL ECONOMIC REFORMERS IN NEW RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT

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    LONDON, March 10, 2004. (RIA Novosti correspondent Alexander Smotrov) - The new Russian government has increased the role of liberal economic reformers. This was the assessment the leading British newspapers gave on Wednesday to the new Russian Cabinet announced the day before.

    "Yesterday Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled a sharply streamlined cabinet that reinforced the influence of the liberal economic reformers in the new government while highlighting his own firm grip on decision-making," writes the Financial Times.

    According to the newspaper, "the structure, modeled on the operation of western governments, aims to separate political decision-making from implementation and control, and is the cornerstone of Mr. Putin's civil service reforms. It also gives the Kremlin greater leverage in driving through its policies".

    When commenting on Sergei Lavrov's appointment the country's new foreign minister, the Financial Times points out that it "represents a second appointment after that of Mr. Fradkov himself, the former EU envoy, as someone with western experience who has firmly defended Russia's interests abroad".

    The Times' comments were as follows: "President Putin strengthened the hand of economic modernizers in his Government yesterday in a reshuffle just five days before his certain re-election".

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