MOSCOW (REUTER) - President Boris Yeltsin on Tuesday promoted conservative Interior Minister Anatoly Kulikov to the post of deputy prime minister in charge of coordinating the fight against crime. Yeltsin`s press secretary Sergei Yastrzhembsky told a briefing Kulikov, while remaining interior minister, would also be in overall charge of the tax police, customs service and other agencies dealing with economic crime. "A need emerged for closer coordination...in the fight against crime, first of all economic crime," Yastrzhembsky said. Kulikov, 50, is widely considered to be a conservative. He becomes one of eight deputy prime ministers in the government. Yeltsin appointed Kulikov interior minister in July 1995. He had previously commanded the joint defence and interior ministry troops in the southern Russian region of Chechnya, which declared itself independent in 1991. Last year, Kulikov criticised a peace deal with separatists in Chechnya. He has also advocated nationalisation of some banks. Kulikov was the most vociferous opponent of General Alexander Lebed when the latter was Russia`s national security chief and lost a defamation case to him in court late last year although he won a separate libel case against Lebed. Kulikov said Lebed was plotting a "creeping coup" to grab power. Lebed denied the charges. Yeltsin then sacked Lebed after only four months in office.