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Putin says Mishustin was not among original picks for PM

Asked about the reasoning for his choice, Putin replied: "I took into account personal traits and professional skills"

MOSCOW, February 20. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has disclosed how he selected Mikhail Mishustin for the post of prime minister.

"Three, or maybe even four candidates were submitted. But Mishustin was not on the list," Putin told TASS in an interview for the project entitled: "20 Questions with Vladimir Putin". "No one mentioned Mishustin except me."

Putin said that it was his personal decision to put forward Mishustin for the post of Russia’s prime minister.

Asked about the reasoning for his choice, Putin replied: "I took into account personal traits and professional skills of Mikhail Vladimirovich [Mishustin]."

Furthermore, Putin highlighted Mishustin’s performance as head of the Federal Tax Service (FTS).

"I did. Not the fact that he carried [the digitization of the FTS] out, but the fact that he really became an expert in this area. A man of practice, who understands very well what needs to be done and who knows how to do it; and he is doing it and achieves concrete results," he explained.

It would be wrong to say that the tax service’s sole task is to levy taxes, Putin believes.

"This is a very primitive understanding of the work of the tax service. Yes, naturally, it is one of the main bodies bringing funds to the state treasury; however, to think that a tax collector walks around with a club, squeezing money out of people is very primitive," he said.

"His mission [in the capacity of FTS chief] was to ease the situation for taxpayers, to make the procedure more transparent and clear and less burdensome for citizens. An honest man who knows he properly pays all due taxes has the right to expect that the state will use the money wisely," Putin explained.

In his opinion, "the first thing to do is not to simply extract money from people - it is to organize the system in such a way that both the state and tax payers could comfortably work with each other and it would be clear how things are arranged, and everybody could pay taxes without impediment, without unnecessary hassle and stress, and without running the risk of doing something that the state may interpret as illegal."