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Almost two weeks passed since Vladimir Putin has been sworn in as Russia’s new president, but the structure of a new government remains unknown. Political scientists explain this pause with the battle of the clans in Russia’s elite, while some ministers discourse upon their prospects themselves.
The protracted formation of a new Cabinet becomes almost embarrassing, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily wrote. Obscure explanations have been piled up. The president skips the G8 summit at Camp David to plunge into the formation of the new Cabinet, while the prime minister goes to the St. Petersburg forum to recount advantages of the Internet democracy.
Gleb Pavlovsky, who heads the Effective Policy Foundation, described this situation as a prologue to a serious governmental crisis. He expressed confidence that this pause echoed last year’s Kremlin-PM job swap. “Then the prime minister was appointed in advance, while his powers remained completely uncertain. Now he feels as if he were told – you will be the prime minister, but what will you do?” Pavlovsky was quoted by the daily as saying.
The country is experiencing some serious shocks, while the government’s concept has not been finalized so far. “Medvedev tries to do this in the “open government” concept, but it appears that Putin did not like it,” he said.
Meanwhile, the conflict emerges not between Medvedev and Putin, but “between different clans who contact Putin and block these or those candidates lobbying their own,” the political scientist said. “In fact, the government is being formed by a third force that consists of different clans first of all in the team of Putin and partly in the team of Medvedev.”
The lack of publicity in discussing the Cabinet’s structure reflects the power’s weakness and its internal contradictions, Lev Gudkov, director of Levada Centre pollster, said. “The closeness of Russia’s politics proves that the authorities have no intention to make any steps towards the society. We go back to the practice of the Soviet era, when the authorities give a signal to the society: this is not your business and you exert no influence on this process.” Public opinion surveys demonstrate negative attitude to what is going on among most active Russian citizens, who express dissatisfaction with the election returns and demand reforms. But the society is not homogeneous. The population that represents Putin’s social base (residents of medium and small towns, rural areas and a conservative, inert part of Russia) is “the reservation of socialism, it feels itself alienated from the country’s management and treats the situation with indifference believing that politics is business of a master, of a czar.”
The situation also irks potential candidates for governmental positions to wait so long, the Kommersant business daily reported. Acting head of the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service, Igor Artemyev, admitted that he was invited for consultations to Vladimir Putin and most probably will retain his position. At the same time in reply to the question whether he held consultations with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, he said “No.”
Acting Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov, in fact, let some words about his future slip out. Being asked at a news conference on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg international legal forum whether the president held consultations on his job in the new Cabinet, Konovalov said, “He didn’t.” Onlookers said the minister looked “gloomy” at the forum.
The words of Artemyev as well as of Konovalov, but to a lesser degree, violate the code of conduct in the state machinery, the daily wrote. Possibly, breach of seniority rules reflects nervousness in the higher echelons of power.
It is not easy for Dmitry Medvedev to form the Cabinet. Many of those, whom he invited, do not want to work in the government, the Vedomosti business daily wrote.
Nobody remembers such dragged out formation of the Cabinet, this issue is being discussed both by senior officials in the Kremlin and the government. All those high-ranking respondents express confidence that the government will be announced on Monday, May 21.
The negotiations on the government’s formation were complicated, and many refused, say people, who kept a close watch on the process. There were different reasons, some do not like the alignment of forces, others do not want to abandon business or simply give their tiredness as a reason, a Kremlin official said. Vedomosti found several candidates, who refused to work in Medvedev’s team.
The chief of Russia’s nuclear power corporation Rosatom, Sergei Kiriyenko, and presidential candidate, businessman Mikhail Prokhorov, refused to take posts of deputy prime ministers for the fuel and energy complex and for industry respectively.
Kiriyenko explained his refusal by his full zeal to further control the nuclear power industry, a person familiar with the issue said. The daily failed to find a reason behind Prokhorov’s refusal. He is not busy with party building, he is full of energy and knowledge that could be applied in the country’s industrial development, the official said. “The president highly estimates him as a decent man and an effective manager.”
Two persons familiar with the results of Economic Development Minister Elvira Nabiullina’s consultations with Medvedev ascertained that she would not run the ministry any more. She explained her step by her work-related fatigue.
SUEK Director-General Vladimir Rashevsky rejected a proposal to become Energy Minister, “he even did not send his CV.”
Yaroslav Kuzminov, rector of the Higher School of Economics, who actively works in the open government, refused to head the Education Ministry, two senior officials confirmed.
There were much more refusals, said a person familiar with the results of the consultations declining to disclose other names, as some persons will go to the president’s administration.
At present, everybody seeks to work in the Kremlin, the centre of decision making is moving there, Vedomosti cited another high-ranking interlocutor as saying. “The president is keen to involve in economics and decision-making, thus he will form the real government,” he said. But the government will not be a shadow one, “it will be real.” Many former ministers will move to the president’s administration.
The bureaucratic machinery will work two times slower than now, a partner for the FBK consulting firm, Igor Nikolayev, forecasts. “Of course, nobody wants to go to Medvedev’s government, as everybody realizes economic risks it may face.”