Putin in control as Russia announces Cabinet line-up


MOSCOW — Incoming Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced a Cabinet line-up on Monday which combined key ministers and powerful Kremlin figures into an unusually strong team under his command.

President Dmitry Medvedev, who took over from Putin last Wednesday, announced three top appointments of his own, including the powerful chief of the Kremlin administration.

But all of them signalled close continuity with Putin.

Medvedev and Putin have pledged to rule Russia together in an unprecedented “tandem” arrangement. But many analysts said the appointments confirmed that Putin remains the real boss, at least for now.

Key Putin ally Sergei Naryshkin — a former government chief of staff reported by Russian media to have links to the security services — was named head of Medvedev’s Kremlin administration.

“I dont think the appointment of Sergei Naryshkin as head of the presidential administration is the decision of Dmitry Medvedev,” said independent political analyst Georgy Bovt.

“I think it is the decision of Vladimir Putin and I don’t actually see any appointments apart from (new Justice Minister) Konovalov that you can put down exclusively to Dmitry Medvedev.”

Putin re-appointed his long-serving Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, seen by markets as a guarantor of Russia’s free-market policies. Sergei Lavrov, the public face of Moscow’s assertive, anti-Western diplomacy, also stayed on as Foreign Minister.

“While planning the optimisation of federal executive authorities, we aimed to increase the efficiency of the state machinery and its personnel,” Putin told reporters as he announced his nominations.

Russia’s stock market, which surged last week on the successful conclusion of the political transition, posted further gains of 1.5 percent on Monday.

Two key figures from the all-powerful Kremlin administration moved with Putin to take up new roles in the White House, the riverside seat of Russia’s government.

Sergei Sobyanin, a former governor of the oil-rich region of Tyumen who headed the Kremlin administration under Putin, becomes the new premier’s chief of staff and one of five deputy prime ministers.

Igor Sechin, formerly a deputy head of the presidential administration and a key Kremlin hardliner with close ties to the security services, becomes another of the five deputy prime ministers, tasked with overseeing industry and energy.