Putin fires half of government and calls for improvement of citizens’ well-being

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed the composition of the new government headed by former tax chief Mikhail Mishustin.

After replacing nine out of 21 ministers and five deputy ministers, Putin said during a meeting with the cabinet in the Kremlin that the “high positions” will be a “serious trial” for each minister.

“Everything that has been achieved through hard labor – I say so with a bit of irony, but it’s still true – should also be used well in the future to achieve national goals… Undoubtedly the most important task is to improve the well-being of our citizens and reinforce our nationhood and our nation’s position in the world,” the Kremlin’s website cites the president as saying.

Putin said that a “very balanced” government has been achieved. The entire security bloc – Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu, Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev and Minister of Emergency Situations Yevgeny Zinichev have kept their old positions.

The rumors which began in 2018 regarding Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s resignation were not confirmed. Despite a 16-year stint as the head of the Foreign Ministry and, as sources told RTVI, a long-standing desire to step down, Lavrov has kept his portfolio and will still report directly to the president.

Other people who have retained their places in the government are Energy Minister Alexander Novak, who agreed to the OPEC+ deal; Transport Minister Yevgeny Dietrich, who is leading Aeroflot towards a monopoly; Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev, son of Security Council Secretary Nikolay Patrushev; Minister of Construction Industry, Housing and Utilities Vladimir Yakushev, Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology Dmitry Kobylkin, and Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov.

Anton Siluanov has remained the head of the Finance Ministry, but has been stripped of his status as deputy prime minister. In that capacity, he is being replaced by the president’s former assistant on economics Andrey Belousov, a supporter of increased state financing and advocate of the “ring of enemies” doctrine, who became notorious for his idea of confiscating 500 billion rubles (around $8.1 billion) from metallurgical companies “because you have to share”.

Alongside Siluanov, Maxim Akimov, Vitaly Mutko and Olga Golodets will no longer be deputy prime ministers. In May 2019, Akimov was made responsible for meeting the country’s goals for digitization and innovation, and Mutko for improving the population’s living conditions. Despite the failure, “unsinkable” Mutko remains in the sector, and could end up in charge of the Agency for Housing Mortgage Lending (DOM.RF), Interfax reports, citing a source.

Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova, who is directly responsible for reducing poverty and improving the birth rate, has kept her position. Yury Borisov, who used to supervise defense, has managed to hold onto his position as deputy prime minister, but has been moved to the energy industry.

People promoted to deputy prime minister include Viktoria Abramchenko, head of the state registration service; Moscow’s deputy mayor Marat Khusnullin, Gazprom Media director Dmitry

Chernyshenko, and two of Mishustin’s former deputies at the Tax Service – Dmitry Grigorenko and Alexey Overchuk.

Former Minister of Economic Development Maxim Oreshkin has left the government, to be replaced by former governor of Perm Krai Mikhail Reshetnikov. Oreshkin may be moving to the Kremlin. A federal official told The Bell that Oreshkin’s people have been phoning various officials and suggesting that he be moved to the presidential administration.

The entire social bloc has been replaced. Instead of Veronika Skvortsova, the Ministry of Health will be directed by Mikhail Murashko (former head of the healthcare surveillance service). Olga Vasileva will hand over the position of Minister of Education to Sergey Kravtsov, director of the federal health surveillance service.

Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky and Minister of Science and Higher Education Mikhail Kotyukov have both been dismissed. The former will be replaced by Olga Lyubimova, the latter by Valery Falkov.

  Russia, Putin