President Mikhail Gorbachev formally nominated Finance Minister Valentin Pavlov to succeed Premier Nikolai Ryzhkov, and the Soviet Parliament on Monday quickly approved the appointment.
Deputies voted 279-75 with 66 abstentions to confirm Pavlov after only perfunctory discussion on a day dominated by heated debate over Sunday's bloody crackdown in the Lithuania.The nomination and vote came amid reports that Moscow's ambassador to the United States, Alexander Bessmertnykh, would succeed Eduard Shevardnadze as foreign minister.
In his nominations to the Supreme Soviet, the country's standing parliament, Gorbachev also named four deputy prime ministers but did not put forward his choices for the rest of the Cabinet.
The independent Interfax news agency quoted "well-informed sources" at the Foreign Ministry who said Shevardnadze would be succeeded by Bessmertnykh. The report could not be independently confirmed.
Gorbachev told the Parliament he chose Pavlov to succeed Ryzhkov because of the finance minister's economic experience.
"The Cabinet should be headed by a major financier and economist with great experience and character and capable of bearing the burden of responsibility," Gorbachev said in his nomination speech.
Ryzhkov, who is recovering from a heart attack, was often criticized for his cautious approach to economic reform. But Gorbachev's nominees seem at least as conservative as Ryzhkov.
Pavlov has headed the finance ministry as the Soviet economy faced crisis after crisis and he is seen as an old-style communist bureaucrat unlikely to push for a rapid move to a free market economy.
Gorbachev also nominated Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Doguzhiyev, chief of the government commission on emergencies, as first deputy prime minister in his new Cabinet.
Other nominations for deputy prime ministerships were Vladimir Velichkov, minister of heavy machine building; state planning commission chairman Yuri Maslyukov; and Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Laverov.
It was not known when Gorbachev would announce the rest of his Cabinet choices.