Thursday, October 23, 2014


Russia

Who's Who In Russia's New Government

Russian President Vladimir Putin presented Russia's new cabinet on May 21 after weeks of intense speculation.

Putin appears to have kept loyalists in key posts, which may block any reformist agenda. Some longtime stalwarts, like Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, hold onto their posts.

RFE/RL Moscow correspondent Tom Balmforth takes a closer look at the roster of ministers.

Igor Ivanovich Shuvalov, 45 -- First Deputy Prime Minister

Shuvalov is widely recognized as a “Putin man.” He remains in charge of overall economic policy in his second stint as the formal No. 2 to the prime minister, a brief he held in Putin's 2008-12 cabinet.

An English-speaking former lawyer, he joined the government in 1997 and is seen as one of Russia’s leading advocates of business. Shuvalov is officially one of the government's wealthiest members. He has publicly declared homes in the United Kingdom, Dubai, Austria, and three in Russia. He was recently the subject of corruption allegations.

According to reports by "The Wall Street Journal" and the "Financial Times," his family made tens of millions of dollars in dealings with powerful tycoons. He does not deny the reports but says that he followed the letter of the law.
 
Vladislav Yurevich Surkov, 47 -- Deputy Prime Minister and Chief of Government Staff
This appointment shows Surkov has bounced back from a fall from grace, which in December saw him unceremoniously dismissed from the Kremlin administration after years as the regime's chief political manager and informal ideologist.

Last December, he was relegated to an obscure deputy prime minister's portfolio in the wake of United Russia's poor performance in the State Duma elections that month. The May 21 appointment sees Surkov assume a key government post formerly held by his arch rival, Vyacheslav Volodin, who currently holds Surkov’s old Kremlin post.
 
Surkov is seen as the architect of Vladimir Putin’s political system and something akin to the master of darkness by the opposition. His past swirls in legend and myth. He is thought to have coauthored songs for the Agatha Christie gothic rock group and penned a gangster novel under a pseudonym.

According to Surkov’s official bio, he was born in Lipetsk, Russia. But according to the Moscow rumor mill, he was actually born to a Chechen father in the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Republic of the Soviet Union. According to the rumors, Surkov changed his given name from Aslambek Dudayev.

Pictures of Surkov’s former Kremlin office that were published by a prominent blogger showed that Surkov keeps pictures of the rapper Tupac Shakur, U.S. President Barack Obama, and revolutionary Che Guevara on his mantelpiece. "Surkovskaya Propaganda" is a favorite meme of the opposition.
 
Arkady Vladimirovich Dvorkovich, 40 -- Deputy Prime Minister

A technocrat, Dvorkovich is widely seen as a “Medvedev man" and was a strong advocate of Medvedev remaining president for a second term. Dvorkovich was appointed Medvedev's economic adviser in May 2008. He backs privatization and modernization.

Dvorkovich was widely tipped in the media to be put in charge of energy and industry policy in the new cabinet, but there have not been any announcements made on the allocation of specific briefs. If, however, Dvorkovich does receive that portfolio, it could lead him into conflict with staunch Putin ally Igor Sechin, who was the last official to run energy policy. Sechin is one of the most notable omissions in the new cabinet, but the former intelligence operative is expected to maintain considerable influence over energy policy after Putin appointed him to the board of Rosneftegaz.

Dvorkovich’s credentials as a backer of Medvedev and a force for privatization may not sit well with Sechin, who represents the siloviki -- the influential clique of security service veterans close to Putin -- and who has long been informally known as the state energy tsar.

Dvorkovich is urbane, an official at the Russian Chess Federation, speaks English and German, and can be found tweeting at @advorkovich.
 
Dmitry Olegovich Rogozin, 48 -- Deputy Prime Minister

Nationalist, charismatic, bombastic, confrontational, and anti-Western are words that are often used to describe Russia's former envoy to NATO. In 2008, Rogozin was sent to Brussels to work as Russia’s NATO envoy after he became too outspoken as head of his nationalist Rodina (Motherland) party. But since he was called back last December, his political star has risen.

He was appointed a deputy prime minister and given the military-industrial complex to handle in Putin's outgoing cabinet. In February, Medvedev named him to head Moscow's negotiations with NATO over missile defense in Europe. Rogozin can be found posting sometimes provocative tweets at @rogozin.
 
Aleksandr Gennadyevich Khloponin, 47 -- Deputy Prime Minister

Khloponin, the former governor of Krasnoyarsk Krai from 2002 to 2010, is a respected businessman who was appointed the presidential envoy to the North Caucasus Federal District by Dmitry Medvedev in January 2010. His remit was to stimulate tourism and business in Russia’s troubled Caucasus.
 
Olga Yurevna Golodets, 49 -- Deputy Prime Minister

She had held the post of deputy Moscow mayor on social issues since December 2010. Prior to that, she was deputy governor of the Taymyr Autonomous Okrug for social issues.
 
Dmitry Nikolayevich Kozak, 53 -- Deputy Prime Minister

Kozak is a well-established politician, a loyal Putin man and seen as a competent manager. He is one of the five deputy ministers who were reappointed. He headed Putin’s reelection team in the 2004 campaign and served as regional development minister before becoming a deputy prime minister in Putin's cabinet from 2008-2012.
 
Vladimir Aleksandrovich Kolokoltsev, 51 -- Interior Minister
 
Kolokoltsev replaces Rashid Nurgaliyev, who served as Russia's top law-enforcement official since 2003. Kolokoltsev, the long-serving head of the Moscow police force, came into the national spotlight in December 2010 during the nationalist riots that rocked Manezh Square near the Kremlin walls.

He personally negotiated with nationalists who had assembled there. Russia analyst and New York University professor Mark Galeotti wrote on Twitter on May 21 that Kolokoltsev’s appointment reflects the kind of cabinet that Putin sought overall: loyal, tough, and safe rather than liberal and reformist.
 
Anton Germanovich Siluanov, 49 -- Finance Minister
 
The career bureaucrat studied finance in the 1980s before joining the Russian Republic's Soviet-era Finance Ministry, where he remained despite a short break for military service. After the Soviet break-up, he rose up through the ministry during the 1990s. He has served twice as deputy finance minister. Siluanov was appointed acting finance minister in September after Aleksei Kudrin was removed from the post, purportedly for criticizing Medvedev’s 2012-14 state budget.
 
THE NOTABLE OMISSIONS
 
Viktor Alekseyevich Zubkov, 70: The Communist Party apparatchik was first deputy prime minister alongside Shuvalov in Putin's outgoing cabinet. In the new government there is only one first deputy prime minister (Shuvalov) and Zubkov is nowhere to be seen on the roster.
 
Rashid Gumarovich Nurgaliyev, 55: The interior minister of 8 1/2 years finds himself jobless after the cabinet reshuffle. People close to the former KGB operative said that he “will stay at the president's disposal and will likely get a new post." The 57-year-old Tatar policeman has called for tough crackdowns on online extremism. (UPDATE: Nurgaliyev was named deputy head of the presidential security council on May 22.)

Igor Ivanovich Sechin, 51: Unless Sechin gets a Kremlin post, this will be the first time since 2000 that the former intelligence operative and staunch Putin ally will not be working in the same building as his longtime patron. During Putin’s first two presidential terms, Sechin worked in the Kremlin administration and followed Putin to the government when Medvedev came to power in 2008. Sechin now loses his formal brief as head of energy policy, which he held in the last cabinet. But he will continue to wield considerable influence as a board member of the main state energy holding company, Rosneftegaz.
 
Mikhail Dmitriyevich Prokhorov, 47: The tycoon-turned-politician who finished third in the presidential election in March was expected to be offered a place in government as a concession to opposition protesters. Citing Kremlin and government insiders, the "Vedomosti" news daily reported ahead of the announcement that Prokhorov was offered a place in the government but turned it down.

* This article has been corrected to show that Aleksandr Khloponin was governor of Krasnoyarsk, not Krasnodar, and that Mikhail Prokhorov finished third in the election, not second.
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Eugenio from: Vienna
May 22, 2012 05:52
Exactly: the RFE/RL has for months been promising us a "big change" in Russia - whereas what we're seeing is continuity.
And the RFE/RL has NEVER made any mention of any kind of coming change is such European states as SERBIA, GREECE or FRANCE - and what we are seeing in all three is this very big change happening. And this change is clearly NOT changing the situation in favour of the US/NATO.

by: Mamuka
May 23, 2012 12:20
Is this a somewhat younger crowd in the Kremlin? Are there any possible "reformers?" And whatever happened to Sergei Ivanov?

by: Catherine Fitzpatrick from: New York
May 27, 2012 07:03
Guys, when are we going to cease this silly game of pretending to find liberals in the Kremlin?

http://3dblogger.typepad.com/minding_russia/2012/05/getting-the-new-kremlin-cabinet-wrong-no-these-are-not-liberals.html

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