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Russia Has New Prime Minister

Russia finally has a government. The acting foreign minister and ex-KGB spymaster, Yevgeny Primakov, was overwhelmingly approved as Russia's new prime minister, by the lower house of the Russian parliament.

"I'll tell you in advance," Primakov told the deputies, "I'm no magician."

And he's certainly no Western-style economic reformer either, from the looks of his first appointments reports CBS News Correspondent Richard Threlkeld.

He named a Communist economist, as his first deputy, and another Soviet-era bureaucrat, Viktor Gerashchenko, as head of Russia's central bank. When Geraschenko had that job before, one Western economist described him as the worst central banker in the world.

Primakov envisions a kind of Russian-style New Deal -- using government money to pump up the economy. The trouble is, Russia is basically broke, and printing more rubles will, many experts fear, turn this economic crisis into a disaster.

President Yeltsin addressed the Russian people on TV today. "I understand life is hard for everyone," he said, "now we must work to overcome this crisis, all of us together."

Yeltsin has had to make so many concessions to get this government he's swiftly becoming little more than a figurehead. So there's a political vacuum here, and the Communists are rushing to fill it.

Reported by Richard Threlkeld