Just Following Orders

Talk about an inauspicious debut. During his first meeting with Cabinet staff after being named Prime Minister, Mikhail Fradkov seemed lost. "His appointment was obviously as unexpected to him as it was to us," says a senior Cabinet official. "He seemed unprepared, like he didn't know where to start." That's not surprising, since Fradkov was the rather nondescript ambassador to the E.U. when Putin plucked him from obscurity last week to replace Mikhail Kasyanov as Russia's No. 2, responsible for directing the work of the Cabinet.

Putin's official explanation for the switch was that he wanted Russians to...

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