Yeltsin Delivers Government Shakeup

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MOSCOW: A newly vigorous President Boris Yeltsin dismissed his entire cabinet except for Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais. Chernomyrdin now has one week to form a new, slimmer government, one full of the "competent and energ etic" people Yeltsin promised last week to bring into a restructured government. The house cleaning should streamline bureaucracy. Eleven of the twelve deputy prime ministers, a posh title regularly doled out to political cronies, will be eliminated , leaving former presidential Chief of Staff Chubais, who currently oversees Russia's economic reform drive. The 50 people who head up the government's mind-boggling assortment of federal ministries, agencies and departments also got pink slips . Under the decree, which provided no details, some ministries will be reorganized, while others will be scrapped entirely. While unique in its scope, the presidential decree has a familiar ring to it. Whenever criticism starts to mount, the Yel tsin pen starts scribbling, canning ministers deemed "responsible" for Russia's woes. Chubais himself took the blame in an early round. It remains to be seen whether Yeltsin's new government will prove any more adept at tackling the country's pressing problems: growing mafia influence, widespread government corruption, unpaid salaries and pensions, spotty tax collection, a crumbling infrastructure, a demoralized and ill-trained army, and a lackluster economy. %0 A