A top economic policymaker said Tuesday that Russia's market reforms would continue but stressed that the state would have to play a larger role to bring the country out of its current crisis.
"We should advance toward the free market but do it very cautiously," said Yuri Maslyukov, the first deputy prime minister who is in charge of economic policy.President Boris Yeltsin fired the previous government a month ago, and new Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov has been in office for 11 days. But Russia still does not have a full Cabinet in place and has not announced a comprehensive plan to deal with the worst economic crisis since the 1991 Soviet collapse.
The new government includes politicians from across the political spectrum, including Maslyukov, a Communist. It's not yet clear how the government will incorporate the various viewpoints into a coherent economic policy.
"The movement toward a free market is inevitable," Maslyukov told reporters Tuesday while on a trip to the St. Petersburg region, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency.
But, he added, "our speed and expectations have surpassed our real opportunities, and instead of a free market we have got crisis and collapse of our financial system."
"The role of the state must, of course, be increased," Maslyukov said.
Yeltsin signed an order Tuesday approving the structure of the new Cabinet. In the process, he restored some ministries that had been abolished in an earlier effort to streamline the government.
Several key government posts, including the job of finance minister and the head of the state tax service, have not yet been filled.
So far, Primakov has only spoken in general terms about the need to continue reforms while easing the pain on the impoverished population.
The government's top priority has been to stabilize and revive the country's leading banks.