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Russia Appoints New Agriculture Minister

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (right) shakes hands with newly appointed Agriculture Minister Yelena Skrynnik.
MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russia has appointed Yelena Skrynnik, head of the state agricultural machinery-leasing firm, as the country's new agriculture minister, the Kremlin has said.

Skrynnik, a 47-year-old economist, replaces Alexei Gordeyev, who held the post for nearly a decade before being nominated as governor of the central Russian region of Voronezh last month.

Skrynnik's previous job as head of Rosagrolizing placed her in charge of the leasing of pedigree cattle, as well as farm machinery and equipment. She is a member of the Supreme Council of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's dominant Unified Russia party.

Gordeyev, 53, served under three Russian presidents and was previously believed to be an unsinkable government member.

His work in the post is widely associated with the start of a revival in the farm sector, which faltered under previous ministers when the post held little prestige.

But Putin last year appointed his predecessor and ally Viktor Zubkov, a former collective farm boss, as first deputy prime minister with a mandate to oversee the agriculture sector.

Zubkov has since been active in the sector, traveling to regions, distributing orders to local officials and persuading agri-businessmen to keep prices low.

Zubkov is also chairman of the board of Rosagrolizing.