Experts on new Russian Cabinet: Vladimir Putin got rid of his former favorites

On March 9 Vladimir Putin made public the structure of the new Russian Cabinet: it will have three levels, there will be 17 Ministers instead of 30.
The Cabinet will include Ministries, Federal Services and Federal Agencies. The President’s signed the Decrees on appointing Deputy  Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov, previously the Head of Budget Committee and Deputy Chairman of the State Duma. Deputy Head of the President Administration, Head of Election Campaign Staff for Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Kazak appointed Head of the government apparatus.
The new appointments for the key Ministries: Rashid Nurgaliev, Interim Interior Minister, Head of Russian Criminal Police, has been appointed Interior Minister. Governor of Perm region Yury Trutnev appointed Minister of Natural Resources. There is new Foreign Minister in the Cabinet - Sergey Lavrov, former envoy of Russia in the UN.

Interim Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko became the Minister of Industry and Power Engineering. Former Head of the State Pension Fund Mikhail Zurabov has been appointed the Minister for Health Care and Social Development.  Former Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov appointed Head of Russian Security Council.
The changes in the government structure have demonstrated: only those with whom Vladimir Putin feels comfortable to work with, will be in the new government. Old connections, friendship and obligations are not valid any more. The Ministers known as “favorites” of Vladimir Putin has been dismissed, including Health Care Minister Yury Shevchenko and Communication Minister Leonid Reiman.

There were no doubts that Head of Security Council Vladimir Rushailo, politician of Yeltsyn’s “Family” circle, would be dismissed. And this has happened.

Even Aleksei Kudrin suffered from the latest Cabinet renovation: Vladimir Putin lowered his status from Deputy Prime Minister (in charge of finance) to Minister of Finance. However, the old “team“ (Kudrin, Gref and Khristenko) is still controlling the key economic Ministries. Probably the President decided that it was not worthy to experiment in the sphere of economy. Vladimir Putin took no risk of dismissing Minister for Emergency Situations Sergey Shoigu, although there had been rumors on his dismissal for a long time.
Several new appointments may be called symbolic. The President made a gesture to intelligentsia by appointing Provost of Moscow Consevatory Sokolov to the post of Minister of Culture. Appointing Alexander Zhukov Deputy Prime Minister meant recognizing the importance of “United Russia” Party. Appointing governor of Perm region Yury Trutnev the Minister for Natural Resources means a gesture to governors. However, there are few such symbolic appointments, and most motives for the new appointments remain the Kremlin’s secret, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote.

Western media on new Russian Cabinet. 
The Financial Times wrote that Vladimir Putin had made the bulky government structure more compact and had increased the influence of the liberal reforms proponents. Vladimir Putin demonstrated that he holds tough control over decision-making process.

According to the Financial Times, the structure of the new Russian Cabinet resembles this of Western governments, and aims at separating political decision-making process from decisions implementation and its supervising, and this is the core of President Putin’s reform of state institutions.

The newspaper pointed out that the President himself announced the new appointments in the Cabinet and in this way diminished the role of new Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov.

The Guardian wrote that Vladimir Putin appointed in the new Cabinet experienced officials loyal to him, and this strengthened the President’s authority over the government. “This shaking five days before the presidential elections gives clear understanding how Vladimir Putin is going to work during his second term”.
 According to the Guardian,  the new term of Vladimir Putin will be distinguished by tough nationalistic foreign policy, radical reforms and fighting corruption, but in the first place the new Cabinet will satisfy any President’s demand.
 The Independent poses a question: why Vladimir Putin will have an absolute victory in the coming presidential elections although he did not accomplished much during his first term.

The Independent sees the secret of “political strength” of Vladimir Putin that he makes an impression of effective leader controlling the situation and at the same time does not touch the foundation of the authority inherited from Boris Yeltsyn.

According to the Independent, Vladimir Putin was lucky because of high oil prices. They supported Russian economy, and Russian people are grateful to Vladimir Putin – they do not have constant feeling of uncertainty resulted from the collapse of Communism.
Source: RIA-Novosti, NG, BBC

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Author`s name Evgeniya Petrova