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Experts are discussing composition of Russia’s future government

March 15, 2012, 17:55 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila

A new configuration of power is taking shape in Russia. The details will be known after the May 7 inauguration of president-elect Vladimir Putin, who is now taking the prime minister’s seat, and the expected transfer of the outgoing president, Dmitry Medvedev, to the position of the head of government. The analysts’ interest is focused on the personnel make-up of a future Cabinet, which is still anyone’s guess. In any case, it will be a government of Vladimir Putin, and not of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

In the meantime, a future head of government made it quite clear what principles he will be guided by in his personnel selection policies.

There has been a variety of rumors about the makeup of a future government. For instance, there should be not two first deputy prime ministers, contrary to the current practice, but several officials of the same rank, responsible for the key areas of work. Experts believe that in any case there will be two decision-makers - Putin and Medvedev - whose aims coincide only partially. While the president-elect would have nothing against continuity, a future prime minster would like a radical overhaul of the team he would inherit from his predecessor.

At this point it is clear that some key figures of the recent past will be absent from the new government. Former Deputy Prime Minister, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin has confirmed that he would by no means work in the new government. In the opinion of the director of the Globalization Institute, Mikhail Delyagin, who is quoted by the daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta, on the list of those who are likely to retain their seats are the supervisor of the fuel and energy complex Igor Sechin, liberal Igor Shuvalov and competent and articulate but advanced in years Viktor Zubkov. The expert remarked he would not swear to it the recent appointees – Dmitry Rogozin and Vladislav Surkov will survive.

In his opinion, of the Putin-appointed ministers Education and Science Minister Andrei Fursenko will be the first to go, for he is not liked by most representatives of higher school. It is not ruled out that Economic Development Minister Elvira Nabiullina will be replaced, because, as Delyagin said, she is far from being the most efficient economics-related government minster. The resignation of Health and Social Development Minister Tatyana Golikova is rather high. It may follow if the ministry is split in two – that of health and of social development.

Communication Minister Igor Shchyogolev may lose control of the mass media. It looks like this non-core asset may be re-subordinated to the Ministry of Culture.

“Decisions regarding the structure and makeup of a new government will be made by two persons – Putin and Medvedev. In doing so they may pay no attention to what the parliament will say. Consequently, the whole procedure may take place behind closed doors,” said the deputy president of the Center for Political Technologies, Alexei Makarkin. He believes that Medvedev as a new prime minister would like to fundamentally renew the list of ministers, in particular, those in the economic segment. Some of the heads of ministries and agencies not popular in society will be bound to step down.

In general, Medvedev will have to form his own team from scratch. In the current government, Makarkin recalled, there is only one man nominated and appointed by Medvedev – he is Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov. All the others are Putin’s men. The political scientist believes the key issue about the redistribution of power between Putin and Medvedev is whether Igor Sechin will remain in charge of the fuel and energy complex.

“A future government is expected to be a double-kernel one. The greater kernel will consists of Vladimir Putin’s creatures, which is absolutely obvious; and the smaller, logistics one, of Dmitry Medvedev’s proteges,” the network periodical Vek quotes political scientist Alexei Mukhin as saying. He added there had been ever stronger rumors about the forthcoming resignation of Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov and his replacement by Dmitry Rogozin. He believes that Igor Sechin will retain his post.

The authoritative daily Vedomosti analyses the composition of the current government. The current government consists of several uneven parts, says the daily. The liberals – First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, the economists of the government’s staff and top officials of the Economic Development Ministry and Finance Ministry have put paid to their old-time strife to have united under the banner of Strategy-2020. Their key ideas are fast and large-scale privatization, a change of budget spending priorities, fast dismantling of the costly and ineffective system of state capitalism, and decontrolling and decentralization as a remedy against falling economic growth rates. The promise of premiership to Dmitry Medvedev made themselves very optimistic.

The old-time statists rely on the economic giants, as they did five years ago. They argue that only large companies will be able to pull the economic growth rates out of the current bog of stagnation. Their leader in the current cabinet – Igor Sechin – managed to veto the program for the privatization of the largest energy companies at the end of last year and early this year. On the list of his willy-nilly supporters one sees many civil servants – industrial ministers, heads of state joint-stock companies, and leaders of regions dependent on state companies. The gist of that party’s program is return to the 2007, that is further efforts to build an economic model dating back to the end of Vladimir Putin’s second term, interrupted by Dmitry Medvedev’s presidency and the crisis. The liberals’ victory would spell for them the loss of the “commanding heights” in the Russian economy and considerable budget losses, which would be inevitable in case of the implementation of Strategy-2020.”

The third force in the Russian government is the not-yet-finalized group of Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. The curator of the defense-industrial complex, Rogozin, still does not have a large number of supporters in the Cabinet of Ministers or firm control of the defense budget. But his political activity, obviously authorized by Putin himself, apparently gives him a competitive edge of a different sort. Inside the greater “ruling party” Rogozin begins to embody an anti-American strength-reliant function, fundamentally important to Putin.

This structure of the Cabinet, should it be preserved for sometime after Medvedev takes over the Cabinet, would be ideal for Putin. Any alliances between any two of the groups are impossible for various reasons. Obviously, by sending to the prime minister’s seat a person who is just unable to stay neutral in a situation like this Putin deliberately reserves for himself the role of a day-to-day arbiter in day-to-day disputes and controversies, says the daily Vedomosti. In this way he creates a safety net in case of the emergence of a bureaucratic opposition to his not yet finalized political course.

As an opinion poll, held by the daily Novyie Izvestia has shown, the daily’s readers are eager to know the names of future government ministers to a no smaller degree than political scientists. On a list of 20 names of deputy prime ministers and ministers of the current Cabinet of Ministers the readers recognized only four as “conditionally fit” for doing the ministerial job further. Alongside the old-timers – Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and also Communications Minister Igor Shchyogolev only one newcomer earned support – Dmitry Rogozin. The credibility ratings of the other deputy prime ministers and industrial ministers are at a level of one percent.

In the meantime, Dmitry Medvedev at Wednesday’s enlarged meeting of the working group for forming the Open Government system in Russia, which was devoted to a personnel policy reform, supported nearly all proposals made by experts. He agreed to create a special agency for the reform of the civil service and to conduct a selection of civil servants on a contested basis. In 2012 Putin expressed the wish to replace all chiefs of government services and agencies through contests.

Medvedev also hinted the recommendations of the working group for replacing civil service personnel would be taken into account by a future government. “The old system does not work. In fact, it has not taken shape. We are using the remains of the Soviet system and some of our own ideas. No social lifts, no normal system of selection has been created to this day,” he said in conclusion.


MOSCOW, March 15