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Paper profiles Russia's new first deputy minister for economic development
Source: Vedomosti , Moscow, in Russian 17 Jun 03

Andrey Sharonov, who has been appointed Russia's first deputy minister of economic development, will be in charge of drawing up medium-term programmes, plans and strategies, deregulating the economy and supporting entrepreneurship, according to a newspaper article. Sharonov, 39, a former Komsomol functionary in charge of youth affairs who rose to the post of deputy minister of economic development, proved himself as a qualified and efficient manager who can "take a blow" and who can reach a compromise. The following is the text of an article published in the Russian newspaper Vedomosti (HTML version) on 17 June:

Andrey Sharonov has replaced Elvira Nabiullina as [Economic Development and Trade Minister] German Gref's first deputy. Observers assess this choice as the logical continuation of the career of a young official who five years ago had barely become a minister in the government of Sergey Kiriyenko.

On Friday [13 June], Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov signed an order on the resignation of the former first deputy minister for economic development, Elvira Nabiullina, and the appointment of Andrey Sharonov to replace her.

Nabiullina is moving to a job at the Centre for Strategic Reforms, where, according to an official from the president's administration, she is going to open "a second front on reforms". She will be working on preparing Vladimir Putin's economic campaign platform and will be drawing up legislative initiatives that have little chance of getting through the government apparatus.

Nabiullina's place has been taken by Sharonov, who has been working as a "plain" deputy minister since 1997, first in the Ministry of Economics under Yakov Urinson and Andrey Shapovalyanets, and then in Gref's Ministry of Economic Development. Gref has had three first deputies in all - in addition to Sharonov, these are Ivan Materov and Mikhail Dmitriyev.

In Gref's department, Sharonov was in charge of the reform of natural monopolies, their tariffs, state purchases, the transition to international standards of financial accountability, and the Electronic Russia programme. Added to these spheres now, as Sharonov told Vedomosti, will be the drawing up of medium-term programmes, plans and strategies, the deregulation of the economy and the support of entrepreneurship, and issues of bankruptcy, licensing and land relations. In addition, Sharonov will be running the legal department and will continue his work on the programme to train administrative personnel that he has been engaged with since 1998. Candidacies for the post of "plain" deputy minister are now being considered, and Sharonov refused to name the possible candidates.

Andrey Sharonov, 39, is a graduate of Ufa Aviation Institute. In 1989 he was chosen as one of the people's deputies of the USSR Supreme Court [presumably, Supreme Soviet], where he chaired the subcommittee on youth affairs. Later he worked in the Central Committee of the All-Union Komsomol Organization and in the RSFSR State Committee on Youth Policy. In the years 1992-96, he was chair of the Russian Federation Committee on Youth Affairs. In 1996 he came to the Ministry of Economics to the post of director of the combined department for social issues.

All the officials, deputies and entrepreneurs surveyed by Vedomosti speak of Sharonov as a qualified and effective manager. "He came to the Ministry of Economics when I was running the ministry," recalls Yevgeniy Yasin, "and he immediately recommended himself as a professional who easily grasps a problem." Sharonov was invited by Yakov Urinson, who became minister after Yasin's departure and is now working as deputy chairman of the board of Russian joint-stock company YeES [Unified Energy System of Russia].

The economics official, who at the same time, was dealing with social issues, could in soccer language be called a stopper, says Yasin. His main task was to "stop" proposals whose implementation is impossible given the incomplete macroeconomic stabilization and the budget deficit.

Sharonov himself, however, considers the main mission of those years to have been his work with the as yet unadopted law on minimum social standards, which would have standardized the state's expenditures on its social obligations.

In 1998, then Prime Minister Sergey Kiriyenko offered Sharonov the post of labour minister. "I agreed," recalls Sharonov, "but Yeltsin went with Oksana Dmitriyeva." Soon after, Sharonov moved on to the reform of natural monopolies.

"Sharonov can really take a blow, he's got a Nordic personality," says Deputy Yaroslav Shvyryayev, recalling the battle over the passage of a packet of laws on energy reform. "He does his job precisely, and I don't think has ever made a single mistake."

Unfortunately, in the sphere of monopolies, the government's policy is dictated by the monopolies themselves, and Sharonov, as a member of Gref's team, has to carry out precisely this policy, says a White House official. Hence, according to him, the many compromises in favour of those being reformed which Sharonov agreed to in recent years.

Those being reformed by Sharonov's work were quite content. Vyacheslav Sinyugin, a member of the Russian joint-stock company's [Unified Energy System of Russia] board, calls him "brilliant".

"With Sharonov you can almost always find a compromise because he understands the economic essence of the problems of monopoly reform," notes Ministry of Railways Deputy Minister Anna Belova.

"In the three years I was involved in the reform of the monopolies, we all got a little more conservative," says Sharonov, who considers his main failure in this time to have been the lack of progress in the reform of Gazprom. "We have to yield on the speed of the reforms and the purity of the genre in favour of the reforms' reliability."

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