Russia may be procrastinating on its pensions reforms, but Yeltsin's spring shake-up in favour of reformers has brought the recent appointment of a de facto pensions minister.

Michael Dimitriev, officially known as the deputy prime minister at the Ministry of Labour and Social De-velopment has responsibility for reform of state pensions and private pensions regulations.

Greg McTaggart, Moscow representative of the Know-How Fund - a UK Foreign Office-sponsored body, which is providing advice on pensions reform - described the appointment as a significant boost to the Ministry".

"When Yeltsin made all these changes at the top, bringing in Chu-bais as first deputy prime Minister, he restructured a lot of the government and that has impacted quite dramatically on the department."

Dimitriev is officially number two at the Ministry serving under Boris Nemtsov.

John Lappin"