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Primakov Vote Set For Friday

Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, is to vote on approving Acting Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov as prime minister on Friday, senior parliamentarians said Thursday.

Leaders of several factions in the State Duma, aid the debate would open at 5 p.m. All blocs backed Primakov's candidacy, they said, except the extreme nationalists led by Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

"Agreement has already been reached with Primakov on examining his candidacy tomorrow," Duma Deputy Chairman Vladimir Ryzhkov told reporters.

"Tomorrow Russia will in all likelihood have a new prime minister and he will be able to get down to work on Saturday morning to bring the country out of its financial crisis."

Ryzhkov said Primakov would hold consultations prior to the vote on the make-up of his government and the appointment of a new chairman of the central bank following this week's resignation of Sergei Dubinin. He predicted that parliamentary debate on Primakov's nomination would be short.

Under the constitution, the Duma has a week to consider Primakov's nomination after twice rejecting President Boris Yeltsin's first choice for prime minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin.

Meanwhile, the economy continued its skid. The ruble, which bought about 16 cents last month, is now worth about 5 cents.

Prices have been rising daily and shoppers are clearing out store shelves in anticipation of even higher inflation. Long lines also began forming at gas stations.