Leroy N. Soetoro
2020-01-24 19:34:02 UTC
Russia's President Vladimir Putin approved a new government on Tuesday
that he described as a break with the past, bringing in some fresh faces
but retaining many senior ministers.
The new government included a new economy minister and a new first deputy
prime minister, but the finance, foreign, defence, energy and agriculture
ministers all kept their jobs.
The new team was formed less than a week after Putin unveiled a sweeping
shake-up of the political system, which led to the resignation of his ally
Dmitry Medvedev as prime minister along with the entire government.
Putin went on to pick 53-year-old former tax chief Mikhail Mishustin, who
has almost no political profile, as his new prime minister.
Putin's wider shake-up, which envisages changing the constitution, is
widely seen as preparing the ground for 2024, when Putin, now 67, is
obliged to leave the presidency after occupying the Kremlin or the prime
minister's job continuously since 1999.
Critics have long said that Putin, a former KGB officer, wants to stay on
in some capacity after his term ends so that he can wield power over the
world's geographically largest nation and one of its two biggest nuclear
Tuesday's new appointments could be intended to reboot the government's
flagging image and shift attention to Putin's drive to lift falling real
incomes and forge ahead with big national infrastructure projects, which
he hopes will catapult his country into a new economic league.
"The most important task is to increase the welfare of our citizens and
strengthen our statehood and the position of our country in the world. All
these are absolutely attainable goals," Putin told the new government.
"We have achieved a very balanced government. We have enough people who
worked in the previous government, as well as a major renewal."
'Authorities do not want to irritate society'
Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, Energy Minister Alexander Novak,
Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov all kept their jobs.
Putin named Andrei Belousov, his economy adviser since 2013, as first
deputy prime minister, replacing Anton Siluanov, who had held the role
since May 2018.
Belousov, 60, in 2018 proposed making big metals and mining companies pay
a windfall tax, sending their share prices lower, although that proposal
was subsequently watered down.
Belousov also made headlines last year when he confirmed his friendship
with businessman Artem Avetisyan, whose legal battle with private equity
fund Baring Vostok has rattled the business community.
Putin approved 40-year-old Maxim Reshetnikov, a former regional governor,
as the new economy minister, replacing Maxim Oreshkin who spent just over
three years in the role.
Reshetnikov has previously worked in the Moscow mayor's office.
Putin also replaced the minister of telecommunications. He named Maksut
Shadaev, until now a vice president of state telecoms operator Rostelecom,
to the role.
Abbas Gallyamov, a former government speechwriter, said Putin had removed
three people strongly disliked in certain parts of society - the ministers
for culture and education, and a deputy prime minister who oversaw sport
at the height of a doping scandal.
"Previously the Kremlin said it would appoint who it wanted and didn't
care if people didn't like their choice," Gallyamov wrote on social media.
"Now the logic has changed and the authorities do not want to irritate
But he said that keeping on some political heavyweights signalled there
was little change in direction, adding: "Putin is clearly showing that
substantive changes to the regime's ideology are not planned."
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