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Putin forms a balanced Cabinet

By Vladimir Radyuhin

MOSCOW, MAY 20. The make-up of Russia's new Cabinet, completed on Saturday, suggests the President, Mr. Vladimir Putin, has tried to balance interests of rival financial clans as he concentrates on tightening his grip on free-wheeling provinces.

Mr. Putin appears to have opted in favour of keeping intact the system of checks and balances set up by his predecessor, Mr. Boris Yeltsin. The clique of Kremlin insiders known as ``The Family,'' which pulled the strings during Mr. Yeltsin's rule, has retained its strong influence, while competing power groups have also gained positions in the Cabinet.

``The Family'' includes the Kremlin Chief of Staff, Mr. Alexander Voloshin, Mr. Yeltsin's younger daughter, Mrs. Tatyana Dyachenko, and a handful of business tycoons led by Mr. Boris Berezovsky, Mr. Roman Abramovich and Mr. Alexander Mamut. They played an instrumental role in Mr. Putin's rise to the Kremlin throne, but were widely predicted to lose their clout after the new President has taken over. This has not happened so far, with proteges of ``The Family'' taking key posts in the new Cabinet.

They include the Prime Minister, Mr. Mikhail Kasyanov, the Interior Minister, Mr. Vladimir Rushailo, the Prosecutor General, Mr. Vladimir Ustinov, the Justice Minister, Mr. Yury Chaika, the Atomic Energy Minister, Mr. Yevgeny Adamov, and the Railway Minister, Mr. Nikolai Aksyonenko.

However, ``The Family,'' has lost control over the important Energy Ministry, with its head, Mr. Viktor Kalyuzhny, replaced by Mr. Alexander Garvin, a protege of the Lukoil oil major.

Officials close to the clan of the electric power chief, Mr. Anatoly Chubais, have been appointed to the key Finance Ministry and the newly formed Super-Ministry of Economic Development and Commerce. Both men, Mr. Alexei Kudrin and Mr. German Greff, are also close to Mr. Putin.

Moscow's powerful Mayor, Mr. Yuri Luzhkov, also gained a foothold in the new Cabinet, with his tax chief, Mr. Gennady Bukayev, appointed Federal Tax Minister.

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