Andrei Belousov's appointment as new Defence Minister heralds major audit and reshuffle

Putin cracks down on Defence Ministry after bribery scandal with Shoigu's deputy

By nominating a civilian such as Andrei Belousov for the post of the Defence Minister, Vladimir Putin continued the tradition that had developed during his service.

General Sergei Ivanov was the first minister appointed by Putin. Ivanov came from intelligence (he headed the military department from 2001 to 2007), and was replaced (under President Dmitry Medvedev) by the former chief tax officer Anatoly Serdyukov. Serdyukov served at the post for five years. Sergei Shoigu, a civil engineer by training and the founder of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, chaired the Defence Ministry in 2012 (he left the post of the Moscow region governor).

Andrei Belousov is 65 years old. He has been associated with economics all his life. After graduating from the Department of Economics of the Moscow State University, he took up scientific activities — first at the Central Institute of Economics and Mathematics of the USSR Academy of Sciences, then at the Institute of Economics and Forecasting of Scientific and Technological Progress of the USSR Academy of Sciences. In 1990-2006, he served as a senior researcher and head of a laboratory at the Institute of Economic Forecasting of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

In 2000, Belousov became a freelance adviser to the Prime Minister. From 2008 to 2012 he worked as the director of the government department of economics and finance. Then he headed the Ministry of Economic Development for about a year; from 2013 to 2020, Belousov was an assistant to President Putin, and in January 2020, after Mikhail Mishustin was confirmed as Prime Minister, he became his first deputy. When at the government, Belousov, in particular, supervised "Unmanned Aircraft Systems” national project.

"Belousov has a reputation as an official who makes decisions based on the interests of the state. His strength is the ability to abstract himself from external influences, even from his own likes or dislikes at times to make a decision,” an unnamed acquaintance of Belousov's said describing his working style.

Belousov to audit Defence Ministry's activities 

Presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Belousov's appointment was due to increased military spending. The budget of the Ministry of Defence and the security bloc was quite recently still around three percent 3% of GDP, then it grew to 3.4%, and then to 6. 7%. In the near future, it may reach the level of the mid-1980s, when the share of defence spending in the Russian economy amounted to 7.4%.

"This is an absolutely verified, thoughtful and extremely necessary decision today,” the head of the State Duma Defence Committee, Colonel General Andrei Kartapolov told RBC commenting on Belousov's nomination.

What to expect from the new Defence Minister

President Putin spoke about resource support for the army at a meeting on May 11 with acting Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov and General Director of the Rostec State Corporation Sergei Chemezov. In his current position, Manturov oversees, among other things, the implementation of the state armament program, state defence orders, development programs for defence, nuclear, rocket and space, shipbuilding, aviation and radio-electronic industries. He is going to play a bigger role in the new government — he will become first deputy prime minister.

Andrei Belousov is going to become Russia's new Defence Minister against the backdrop of the scandal with Sergei Shoigu's Deputy Timur Ivanov, who was taken into custody in April and accused of bribery on an especially large scale.

A source familiar with the preparation of personnel changes admitted that "there is a connection between them and the case of Timur Ivanov.”

There will probably be an audit of what the Defence Ministry was doing. Serious reshuffling in the military department is expected to follow as well. It would be strange if the arrest of the Deputy Minister of Defense were not connected with the appointment of a new minister a short time later,” political scientists believe.

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Author`s name Andrey Mihayloff
Editor Dmitry Sudakov
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