"I think what [Putin's] doing is he's clearing out the government of all potentially independent minded ministers and putting in place a guy who's extremely loyal to him and who also has a lot of dirt on everyone else." -- Michael McFaul of Washington's Carnegie Endowment and Stanford's Hoover Institution.
"It is completely possible that this is a signal that all that we thought was completely certain in terms of how things will develop is mistaken. It is a signal that there is no certainty about how things will develop in Russia." -- Maria Matskevich of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Sociology.
"We are probably looking at a government that will be transitional and which will be handed over to a successor who will be named later." -- Andrei Ryabov, a political analyst at the Moscow Carnegie Center.
"The fact that Putin comes up with something unexpected is not necessarily a sign of great cunning and political acumen. It could well be a sign that the man is as anxious and indecisive and perhaps even panicky as some analysts -- myself included -- would suspect." -- Paul Quinn-Judge, a Russia analyst and former Moscow correspondent for "Time" magazine.
"Who will be his successor? That's for Putin to decide. It could be [First Deputy Prime Minister] Sergei Ivanov, it could be [First Deputy Prime Minister] Dmitry Medvedev, it could even be the head of Russia's railways [Vladimir] Yakunin. But I think that whoever it is, this is a signal that the president is making his choice." -- Yevgeny Volk, the director of the Heritage Foundation.