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Lavrov, Shoigu Among Key Ministers Staying In Russia's New Government

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Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (right) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow in September 2019.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has appointed a new government, keeping key officials in place including the ministers of foreign affairs and defense.

The shakeup comes as Putin has launched sweeping constitutional reforms seen as an attempt to secure the 67-year-old former KGB officer’s grip on power beyond the end of his fourth presidential term in 2024.

Dmitry Medvedev, who remained Russia’s prime minister for eight years, quickly resigned after Putin announced the sweeping changes last week. The little-known head of Russia's tax service, Mikhail Mishustin, was picked the next day to succeed Medvedev.

“The most important task is to increase the welfare of our citizens and strengthen our statehood and the position of our country in the world. All these are absolutely attainable goals,” Putin said in a televised meeting with the new government on January 21.

The president hailed the cabinet as “very balanced,” saying: “We have enough people who worked in the previous government, as well as a major renewal.”

In the new government, Putin appointed his economic adviser Andrei Belousov as first deputy prime minister and named eight deputy prime ministers. They include Dmitry Grigorenko, who was also chosen as chief of government staff.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, and Finance Minister Anton Siluanov are keeping their posts. However, Siluanov was stripped of his additional role of first deputy prime minister he had in Medvedev’s cabinet.

Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak, Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov, Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev, Emergency Situations Minister Yevgeny Zinichev, and Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev also retained their posts.

Perm Governor Maksim Reshetnikov became the new minister of economic development, replacing Maksim Oreshkin.

Aleksandr Konovalov lost the job of justice minister, and Konstantin Chuikchenko, who was chief of the government staff, was moved to succeed him.

Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov, Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova, and Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky also lost their posts.

Putin announced his plans for constitutional reforms during his state-of-the-nation address on January 15.

His proposed amendments to the constitution were approved on January 21 by a committee from the lower house of parliament, the State Duma, a day after they were submitted to the chamber.

The State Duma scheduled the first of three required readings of the bill on January 23, the legislature said in a statement.

With reporting by AFP, Reuters, dpa, Interfax, and AP
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