Putin Appoints Former Ministers in Top Kremlin Posts

Posted on: May 22, 2012 at 23:26
President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday gave seven former cabinet ministers top posts in his Kremlin administration in defiance of opposition pressure for new faces after the protests against his rule.

The swift re-assignment of officials from the government to the Kremlin just one day after they formally left the cabinet further cements Putin's command of Russia and limits the sway of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

The announcement effectively completes a reshuffle begun on Monday with the unveiling of a new government that assigned a broader role to one reformist Medvedev aide but otherwise left veteran officials in charge.

Putin's election in March was preceded by months of protests on the streets of Moscow over the prospect of the former KGB spy extending his 12-year domination of Russia until at least 2018 with the same clique of top officials.

Six former ministers who were not included in Medvedev's new government were Tuesday named as Kremlin advisors, according to a decree signed by Putin.

They are: former economy minister Elvira Nabiullina; ex-health minister Tatyana Golikova; ex-natural resources minister Yury Trutnev; ex-education minister Andrei Fursenko; ex-communications minister Igor Shchyogolev; and transport minister ex-Igor Levitin.

Ex-interior minister Rashid Nurgaliyev -- a hate figure for the opposition for harsh crackdowns on protests and cases of police torture and other abuse -- was given the job of deputy head of the national Security Council.

The shift in assignments has reinforced the idea that Russia's so-called ruling tandem was keeping the same political elite in place despite earlier promises of renewal and a focus on economic reforms and growth.

Putin's 2000-2008 presidency witnessed an unprecedented centralization of power by the Kremlin that saw huge companies come under state control and the regions lose the right to elect their own top officials.

Medvedev, who served as president from 2008 to Putin's inauguration earlier this month, wore more liberal credentials and made economic modernization his mantra.

But critics have accused the current premier of failing to implement much change and several Moscow papers predicted on Tuesday that Putin's Kremlin would be making most political and economic decisions from now on.

''Experts do not believe the new cabinet's reformist potential and believe that the key decisions will be made in the Kremlin,'' the Vedomosti business daily said on its front page.

Foreign economists also said that the reshuffle only reinforced the idea that the current ruling structure and system was digging in for the duration.

''We remain skeptical that a radical change in tack on economic policy will follow,'' the London-based Capital Economics research consultancy said in a note.

''Indeed, the fact that key members of the previous administration have retained cabinet positions reinforces our view that vested interests will continue to frustrate hopes for much-needed reforms.''

Tuesday's appointments notably made no mention of the role of former deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin -- a powerful Putin colleague who has long overseen the energy sector and has orchestrated most of Russia's big oil and gas deals.

But he has already been nominated to the board of a state energy company and is widely expected the exercise broad influence over future sector decisions either directly or through his many appointed allies.

Source:Agence France Presse
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