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Yeltsin Dumps Chief of KGB Successor

<i> From Times Wire Services</i>

President Boris N. Yeltsin fired the head of the Federal Security Service on Saturday and replaced him with a former KGB agent.

The Kremlin leader also ordered the Cabinet to sell off part of the world’s biggest natural gas monopoly, Gazprom.

Russian news agencies said security chief Nikolai D. Kovalev was replaced by Vladimir Putin, a former intelligence officer. Putin was recently appointed Yeltsin’s first deputy chief of staff in charge of relations with Russia’s regions.

The Federal Security Service is the main successor to the KGB, the Soviet-era secret police and intelligence agency.

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No reasons for the changes were given. Yeltsin had warned of hirings and firings earlier Saturday after meeting with Prime Minister Sergei V. Kiriyenko in northwestern Russia, where he is vacationing.

Yeltsin said he and Kiriyenko talked about how Russia can repay international loans without “harming the life and well-being of our people.” International lenders recently agreed to $11.2 billion in new loans.

The Kremlin chief also said the country needs to start thinking about how it will pay back a huge international loan package and clear domestic debts, such as wage arrears.

One avenue Yeltsin and Kiriyenko hit on was Gazprom. A decree urges the government to propose when and how to sell 5% of Gazprom shares, leaving the remaining 35% of the state holding untouched.

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