Putin approves new Cabinet that sees key figures remain

May 18, 2018
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, listens to Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev during their meeting in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Friday, May 18, 2018. (Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin reshuffled his Cabinet Friday, replacing some longtime members while keeping key figures in place.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev presented the candidates for ministerial posts at a meeting with Putin in Sochi, and the president approved his proposals.

Earlier this month, Putin re-appointed Medvedev, who has been prime minister since 2012 after serving as Russia’s president for the previous four years while Putin switched to the premiership because of term limits.

Many key Cabinet figures, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, are staying. Siluanov, the main architect of Putin’s economic policies, was also promoted to hold the post of first deputy prime minister.

Other key members of Putin’s economic team — Economics Minister Maxim Oreshkin, Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov and Energy Minister Alexander Novak — also retained their positions.

However, Igor Shuvalov, who previously held the post of first deputy prime minister, is not in the new Cabinet, and Arkady Dvorkovich, a longtime Medvedev’s ally who served as a deputy prime minister, has also left.

Another Cabinet member to lose his seat is Dmitry Rogozin, who served as a deputy prime minister in charge of military and space industries.

Rogozin, famous for his anti-Western tirades, failed to stem a decline of the Russian space program, which has been dogged by launch failures and other problems.

Along with his role in Russia’s space woes, Rogozin might also have irked the dog-loving Russian president by attending a weird experiment when a dachshund was forced into a container filled with an oxygen-rich liquid as part of research into liquid breathing. Rogozin said the dog was unhurt, but the video angered animal rights activists.

Rogozin is replaced with Yuri Borisov, a military general who oversaw the Kremlin’s sweeping weapons modernization programs as a deputy defense minister.

Sergei Prikhodko, a veteran official who served as a deputy prime minister, lost his rank. Prikhodko recently figured in an investigation by Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny.

Navalny alleged that Prikhodko received lavish hospitality from Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska. Deripaska rejected the report and won a Russian court ruling that ordered Navalny to remove the investigation as an unlawful intrusion into the tycoon’s privacy.

Prikhodko, who served as the Cabinet’s chief of staff, was demoted to a deputy of the newly-named chief of staff Konstantin Chuichenko, a Kremlin aide who was in charge of personnel issues.

Another newcomer is Dmitry Patrushev, who was named agriculture minister. He is the son of Nikolai Patrushev, the powerful executive secretary of Putin’s Security Council.

Some Cabinet members have kept their seats despite fierce public criticism. One is Vitaly Mutko, who was in charge of sports and faced broad criticism over doping scandals that haunted Russian sports. Mutko was named a deputy prime minister in charge of construction industries.

Another holdover is Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky, who kept his seat even though he long was rumored to be on his way out.

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