Longtime cronies of Vladimir Putin can always count on a soft landing, even when they get into trouble.
Especially when they get into trouble.
Consider the case of Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko, Russia's former sports minister, whose ties to the Kremlin leader stretch all the way back to when both served in the St. Petersburg government in the 1990s.
Mutko has, of course, long been under pressure over widespread allegations of state-sponsored doping.
He's currently fighting a lifetime ban by the International Olympic Committee.
Last year, he was forced to step down as chairman of the World Cup organizing committee and as president of Russia's Football Union.
But guess what? Mutko just got a new job.
According to press reports, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev this week named Mutko head of the organizing committee for the United Nations World Tourism Organization summit, which will take place in St. Petersburg next year.
Sure, it's not as lofty a position as organizing the World Cup.
But the appointment sends a couple of clear messages.
Inside Russia, it demonstrates that the system will take care of its loyal lieutenants -- as long as they remain loyal.
And outside Russia, it illustrates that Moscow is not going to show any remorse to speak of for widespread allegations of state-sponsored doping that have rocked the sports world.
In fact, quite the opposite.
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