President Putin’s “soft” appointments: the Kremlin seems to be taking control of power structures

It is for the first time since being elected Russia’s president that Vladimit Putin makes a certain cabinet reshuffle. Rumours of likely massive resignations have long been in the air - predictions of such kind could be found in the media. Yet, Mr. Putin’s reshuffling has proved rather modest, although - he must be given his due - they have been elegant. Igor Sergeyev, the resigned defence minister, has been given a kind of armchair work – presidential aide for strategic stability matters. Sergei Ivanov, who was Russia’s Security Council secretary - and is believed to be Mr. Putins’ man, - has become defence minister. Lubov Kudelina, who was deputy finance minister, has become deputy defence minister. It looks like the matter of finances will from now on be given priority in the defence ministry, the latter itself being promoted among other ministries. The resignation of Yevgeni Adamov from nuclear energy ministerial post cannot be considers a great achievement. The Minatom has over the last decade been in deep crisis. The appointment of Aleksandr Rumyantsev as the “nuclear” minister is designed to lead the ministry from this crisis. The most interesting move has surely been a transfer of Vladimir Rushailo from the post of the interior minister to the top position at the Security Council (he takes over from Mr. Ivanov) and nomination of civilian Boris Gryzlov, leader of the pro-Kremlin Yedinstvo Duma faction, to head the interior ministry. Surely, Mr. Gryzlov does have the experience of being in leading positions. But what about an expertise needed to run the interior ministry? Nobody knows. Here, the president seems to take the line of least resistance. Looking at all yesterday’s nominations, it becomes clear that the posts have been filled by people largely loyal to Mr. Putin. As for Mr. Gryzlov, he clearly showed himself to be the Kremlin’s puppet in the recent of no-confidence motion. It is just that sort of figure Mr. Putin apparently needs at the post. It is no secret that the majority of the presidential team came from power ministries, notably the secret police, or FSB. Certainly, to appoint an intelligence officer to run the interior ministry would have been a big political mistake. And this has been luckily avoided. Having tapped Mr. Gryzlov to head the interior ministry, Mr. Putin gets a loyal power minister, simultaneously dropping a courtesy to police. All in all, the above new appointments hurt nobody and bring in no radical changes. The process is going on of moving Kremlin loyalists to occupy key positions. The appointments largely concern power structures and related ministries. There is some food for thought.


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