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PM Putin keeps key ministers in new Russia cabinet

Latest update : 2008-05-12

Russia's newly appointed prime minister Vladimir Putin named his cabinet on Monday, retaining most key ministers and bringing along influential Kremlin aides. R. Goguelin reports from Moscow.

Incoming Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced his cabinet team on Monday, keeping most key ministers in their posts and taking powerful Kremlin figures with him to his new job.


President Dmitry Medvedev, who took over from Putin last Wednesday, approved the names quickly at a formal meeting. But it was the new premier and previous Kremlin boss who announced them to waiting reporters.


“While planning the optimisation of federal executive authorities, we aimed to increase the efficiency of the state machinery and its personnel,” Putin said.


“I have outlined my economic plans to the Duma (the lower house of parliament) and they approved them. Now we can confidently move ahead in tight cooperation with parliamentarians,” Putin told his ministers.


Medvedev and Putin have said they will rule Russia together in a “tandem” arrangement but many analysts believe Putin  remains the real boss, at least for now.


The cabinet appointments followed the style set by Putin for the carefully choreographed handover of power to Medvedev, minimising surprises and emphasising continuity.


Putin re-appointed long-serving Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, seen by markets as a guarantor of Russia’s free-market policies. Sergei Lavrov, the public face of Moscow’s assertive, anti-Western diplomacy, stayed on as Foreign Minister.


Two key figures from the all-powerful Kremlin administration -- often described as the real power in the land—moved with Putin to take up new roles in the government.


Sergei Sobyanin, a former governor of the oil-rich region of Tyumen who headed the Kremlin administration under Putin, becomes the new premier’s chief-of-staff and one of five deputy prime ministers.


Igor Sechin, formerly a deputy head of the presidential administration and regarded as a key Kremlin hardliner with close ties to the security services, becomes another of the five deputy prime ministers, tasked with industries and energy.


Former prime minister and ex-collective farm boss Viktor Zubkov continues in the cabinet as one of two first deputy prime ministers. The other is Igor Shuvalov, who was Putin’s top economic policy aide at the Kremlin.


“Overall, there are no surprises,” said Yevgeny Gavrilenkov, chief economist at Moscow brokerage Troika Dialog.


“It is no doubt a positive sign that Kudrin, known for his conservative policies, has stayed ... It is logical that people who worked with Putin in the presidential administration moved to the government.”


Medvedev appointed Sergei Naryshkin, 53, a close Putin ally who formerly served as government chief-of-staff, to run the Kremlin administration.


Among the few major changes were the removal of Telecoms Minister Leonid Reiman, who has repeatedly denied media reports that he indirectly owns a major stake in Russia’s number three mobile operator Megafon.

The Industries and Energy Ministry was split into two separate entities and two new ministries were created, one for  sport and tourism and another for ecology.


Under Russia’s constitution, the prime minister proposes cabinet names to the president, who must approve them before they are final.

Date created : 2008-05-12