Valentin S. Pavlov, an economist who worked his way from tax collector to finance minister, on Monday was elected prime minister of the Soviet Union. He will succeed Nikolai I. Ryzhkov at the head of a restructured Cabinet.
In nominating Pavlov for the second-toughest job in the government, President Mikhail S. Gorbachev praised his ability as an economist and his commitment to rebuilding the centrally planned Soviet economy on the basis of market principles.
Pavlov, 53, easily won confirmation of the Supreme Soviet, the country’s legislature, with 279 votes for him, 75 against and 66 abstentions. Ryzhkov, 61, suffered a heart attack three weeks ago and remains hospitalized.
“Today at the head of the Cabinet we need a major financial expert, an economist with a lot of experience and with a strong character who is ready to assume the full burden of responsibility,” Gorbachev said.
Pavlov, who had been finance minister since 1989, will have the difficult task of pulling the country out of profound economic crisis and managing the transition to a market economy.
A proponent of tough fiscal policies, Pavlov is expected to push for higher taxes, higher prices and reduced subsidies to help offset a government budget deficit that is consuming more and more of the country’s earnings and holding back development of a market economy.