Putin: New Government May Have 2-3 Vice Premiers

Russia's new government may have two or three vice premiers. Nikolai Kharitonov, head of the agroindustrial deputy group of the State Duma told journalists on Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin had said as much at a Kremlin meeting with deputies-agrarians on Thursday. To quote Kharitonov, the president said that a new structure of the government was being pondered, and there might be two or three vice premiers in the government. The agrarians asked for installing a deputy prime minister in charge of agriculture, and the president responded that it would be hardly possible in the event there are two vice premiers, Kharitonov said. As far as Kharitonov understood, government reshuffles are highly likely to take place in late May. In his words, the president is ready to reinforce the role of the incumbent ministry of agriculture given there is no vice premier in charge of agricultural issues. Tatyana Astrakhankina, who attended the press conference, said that closing the meeting the president directly asked those present what Russia's main curse was, and answered himself--bureaucratic hassles. We understood, proceeded Astrakhankina, that the president finds it hard to implement his ideas with a large army of bureaucrats behind him.

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