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Putin reshuffles the presidential Council for the Development of Physical Culture and Sports

August 23, 2012, 11:59 UTC+3
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President Vladimir Putin reshuffled the presidential Council for the Development of Physical Culture and Sports. The Vedomosti notes that Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is no longer in the Council.

The newspaper reminds that under President Medvedev, the Council's leadership was shared between the head of state /who was chairman/ and premier Vladimir Putin, his first deputy who chaired the Council's presidium/.

The Council will have no presidium henceforth, so the entire authority is in the hands of the chairman, President Vladimir Putin, while premier Medvedev was ushered out of the Council, as were a majority of Cabinet officials /the Council comprised 11 persons/. Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko have kept their posts and remain deputy chairmen. The interior and the finance ministers, too, have kept their posts at Council, the newspaper said.

The presidential Council also decreased the influence of the leadership of the Russian Olympic Committee /OKR/. OKR President Alexander Zhukov lost his post as deputy chairman of the Council and the official powers to influence the agenda of this body. Audit Chamber chairman Sergei Stepashin and head of the Audit Chamber administration Sergei Shakhrai have been relieved of their duties as Council members.

Putin appointed two new members to the Council: Fyodor Yemelyanenko, world champion and president of the council of mixed fighting, a non-Olympic sport, and former Football Union president Sergei Fursenko who is now in the midst of a credit scandal.

The newspaper believes the Council began to work more actively after the dismal performance of the Russian team at the Olympic Games in Vancouver in February 2010, which was accompanied by scandals over sport officials' extravagance. Stepashin stated at one of the sessions of the Council that "the system of training athletes in Russia is corrupted and ineffective."

The Audit Chamber recommended to clearly divide the power between the Ministry of Sports, the Russian Olympic Committee and sport federations, and let the OKR handle the issue. The presidential Council actually became the headquarters to reform the high achievement sport.

The new OKR leadership brought forward a plan of reform with premier Medvedev's assistance. It envisions the establishment of a system to monitor the training of athletes, invite foreign specialists, coaches and athletes, and form a system of grants for athletes and their coaches to fund potential world champions directly.

"The Ministry of Sports and the Sochi 2014 organizing company have blocked this reform," officials from the OKR and the presidential administration told the Vedomosti on condition of anonymity

It follows from the new composition of the Council that the proposed reform can only begin after the Olympic Games in Sochi, editor-in-chief of the PROsport magazine Yevgeny Zuyenko said.

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