Russian lawmakers overwhelmingly approved Yevgeny Primakov as prime minister Friday after he called on all political factions to unite behind his government and tackle the country's economic crisis.
The Duma, the lower chamber of parliament, voted 315-63 to confirm Primakov, a former KGB spymaster and tough-talking foreign minister, in a major show of support for the new government. He called for political stability, asking party leaders to give his government up to a year before deciding if it was succeeding or not."We need unity to come out of this very grave crisis," he told the hushed chamber. "Do not expect to continue political confrontation."
Primakov said he did not have an economic program because he had only been nominated the day before, but he said that economic reform would continue.
"Reforms are necessary. The present situation cannot be overcome without them," he said.
But he also called for a strong state role in the economy: "The government should intervene into the economic affairs and regulate them. This is not a return to the administrative and command system."
He denied this would be a return to Soviet economic control, instead comparing it to emergency measures taken by the U.S. government during the Depression.
"So what must we do? Repeat the wild capitalism that we had up till now? Or use the experience of other countries," he said.
He said the government had to do a much better job running the country.
"We need to strengthen discipline. We should stop this sloppiness which now exists in the government," he said.
Primakov said he wanted representatives of all political parties in his Cabinet but warned they should put aside party interests.
On foreign policy, Primakov said there would be no confrontation with the West, but it was vital to defend Russia's national interests.
President Boris Yeltsin said a major crisis had been avoided by compromise and that Primakov had strong backing from all sides.