It is hard to believe that Russian Cabinet could have been dismissed six months ago.
On June 18, 2003 the State Duma did not support the vote of non-confidence for the government. Communists and Yabloko Party initiated the vote of non-confidence, LDPR and Russian Regions voted for it as well. At that point, the centrists opposed Kasyanov’s Cabinet dismissal, and this saved the government.
Probably after this Russian government and State Duma (having United Party centrist party majority of deputies) became the “best buddies”. Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov denies the allegations of his joining United Russia Party, but Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Kudrin has already expressed his love to this Party in public.
Time flies, people change - oppoisition left the Duma, but appeared in the government (its less radical representatives). Meanwhile, presidential elections are coming, and therefore the Cabinet dismissal is inevitable. New people can be appointed there.
The scheduled reorganization of the Cabinet complicates the situation. The main idea of the reorganization is depriving the Ministries of controlling and supervising functions, and abolishing most of Ministries for the branches of economy. Key Cabinet officials, Deputies Prime Minister Kudrin and Aleshin elaborated different directions for the reorganization: Mr. Kudrin is promoting the idea of establishing powerful system of federal supervising body taking over this function of the Ministries, Mr. Aleshin is pursuing the idea of abolishing the Ministries on the economy branches.
According to some experts, the government apparatus headed by Mr. Merzlikin is using the contradictions between the two Prime Ministers who are also the candidates for the Prime Minister post. The government apparaus combined the two officials' proposals in one document which will be reported to President Putin shortly.
At the same time, everybody believes that reorganizing the government depends on the personality of the Head for the renowated Cabinet. Within Russian authorities high-ranking positions not the person is adjusted for the post, but the post is adjusted for the person, especially if this person is a native of St. Petersburg (Vladimir Putin's compatriot). Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and State Duma Speaker (closest Vladimir Putin's associate, native of St Petersburg) Boris Gryzlov are constantly demonstrating loyalty to each other in public, which means that Mikhail Kasyanov is likely to remain in his Prime Minister post.
However, if Mikhail Kasyanov resigns, the Kremlin will do everything possible to diminish the political influence of the government and turn the Prime Minister into a nominal figure. According to experts, the President Administration underwent the same process after its previous Head Alexander Voloshin resigned.
Competition is usually accompanied by backstage intrigues. For this reason one should pay attention to the attempts of different political forces to decrease the credibility of perspective candidates for the Prime Minister post - Deputy Prime Ministers Kudrin and Aleshin and Minister of Defence Sergey Ivanov.
Analysis reveals several interst groups trying to influence the situation. One of the groups is headed by Deputy Head for the President Administration Viktor Ivanov, the second group comprises another Deputy Head for the Administration Igor Shuvalov and Minister for Economic Development and Trade German Gref, the leader for the third group is Head of Auditing Chamber Sergey Stepashin is opposing everybody.
According to experts, Igor Shuvalov and German Gref are trying to prevent Boris Aleshin from being appointed the Prime Minister, and Viktor Ivanov is plotting intrigues against the Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov.
However, the most active in the intrigues is Sergey Stepashin. The public is well-aware of the historic role of the Auditing Chamber in forming public opinion before starting several sensational legal prosecutions. Lately the Auditing Chamber has advanced in several directions: it is auditing the Ministry of Finance (non-purpose using of budget funds by the State Treasury) and the Ministry of Defense (violation during privatization of state military plants), as media reported.
However, initiative is often punished. At one point President Putin already warned Sergey Stepashin that Auditing Chamber should not become involved in politics. For this reason, the new idea Sergey Stepashin made public - to check the privatization results since 1993 - can result in dismissal of Sergey Stepashin himself.
Experts name some other candidates for dismissal: General Public Prosecutor Vladimir Ustinov, Minister of Justice Yury Chaika, Head of United Power Lines Anatoly Chubais. However, nobody is sure in this prognosis. The election results (although the winner is already known) will be the key factor to influence the process of forming new President's team.