Foreign media – about the new cabinet

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On January 21, a new government was announced, led by Mikhail Mishustin. What the foreign media wrote about this in the selection of Kommersant.

Liberation (Paris, France)

Mikhail Mishustin promised a “very large” update and the emergence of new faces in the government. Technically, he kept his promise. In fact, the changes affected mainly the ministers of the “social bloc” – culture, education, health care, whose predecessors sought record levels of unpopularity.

Perestroika only slightly affected the “economic bloc” – only the Minister of Economic Development Maxim Oreshkin left. But stability reigns in the “power structures”. And this is the main lesson of these permutations: they confirmed the supremacy of the security forces over the liberals in this two-story government. On the one hand there are “political” ministers subjected to constant shuffling in the framework of political games. On the other – the ministers of internal affairs, defense and foreign affairs, who are obviously above all these battles and the authority of the prime minister.

But balancing the forces of different clans who are fighting among themselves at the top of power is not the only interesting moment of permutations.

The appointment of a relatively faded prime minister means that casting for the role of the successor of Vladimir Putin in 2024 remains open …

Six new deputy prime ministers have made a career in the Putin administration and all can be potential successors. This novel is far from over; bets are still being accepted.


Le Soir (Brussels, Switzerland)

All heavyweights expectedly retained their posts in the new government of Mikhail Mishustin. Coincidence or not, but they all have a reputation for Kremlin hawks. The economic bloc, whose tenacity in financial matters was worth the popularity of the previous government, on the contrary, has undergone significant changes …

The main task of the new government is to restart the “national projects” of the Kremlin. This ambitious program, designed for € 375 billion investment in 12 sectors of the economy by 2024, could not get concrete over the past two years, both due to bureaucratic delays and corruption.


Strana.ua (Kiev, Ukraine)

The main conclusions from the changes in the Russian government:

  1. Putin was dissatisfied with the work of key blocks of the Medvedev team – in economics and social policy. And today’s appointments have confirmed this. It is no coincidence that in the last message to the Federal Assembly the main innovations are precisely in terms of assistance to the population.
  2. There are no practical changes in the Ukrainian direction. All key people remained in their places. And Kozak, who was transferred to the Presidential Administration, is likely to continue to engage in economic relations with Ukraine and the “republics” of Donbass.
  3. The President of Russia allowed Prime Minister Mishustin to bring his people from the tax, including to the position of deputy prime minister, which suggests that he was still given a credit of trust (and he will probably also answer with his own head for the result of the work of his people) .
  4. Many officials have been appointed from the Moscow government. However, not all Russian observers interpret this as strengthening the position of the mayor of the capital, Sobyanin (the newly appointed officials were guided by different “Kremlin towers”).
  5. The military bloc, the activities of the security forces and international politics will remain unchanged. That is, Putin has no questions about this. All permutations concerned only internal positions.

Frankfurter Allgemeine (Frankfurt, Germany)

Representatives of the Russian elite are the time to demonstrate special activity. Now is the period of making personnel decisions, and not only in connection with the appointment of the government of the new Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, which, as stated, should achieve “an increase in the standard of living” and “strengthen statehood.” Introducing his new cabinet, Mishustin also said that the economy, which has been weakening recently, should grow. An important post of First Deputy Prime Minister was given to Andrei Belousov, who had previously advised President Putin. He will replace Anton Siluanov, who will remain Minister of Finance.

Especially a lot of changes in social departments. Putin also replaced the head of the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office: Yuri Chaika, who has been the head of this department since 2006 (and, as corruption fighters say, helped develop the business of his two sons), he becomes the presidential envoy to the North Caucasus.

His successor, Igor Krasnov, had previously served on the Investigative Committee, and, as Putin said, he should now pay particular attention to the fight against corruption. This should be considered taking into account the specifics of Russia, but these borders are difficult to discern outside the narrow circle of people surrounding Putin. In addition, the Kremlin is now fueling rumors that elections to the Duma will be held ahead of schedule. Therefore, such a rush should be a signal for the elites: Putin is still the boss in the house, and if you want to stay in the game, you must keep abreast.


Neue Zuercher Zeitung (Zurich, Switzerland)

Russian President Vladimir Putin greeted new ministers at the White House in prime time. And before that, as was repeatedly reported and rather contradictory, there were real clashes of interested groups around the distributed posts. Among the winners were Mishustin himself, who, before being appointed head of the government, led the tax department, and Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin. One of the losers is Dmitry Medvedev, who probably did not voluntarily resign from the post of prime minister: less than half of the cabinet that he gathered less than two years ago remained at their posts.

The most famous foreign ministers – Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Defense Sergey Shoigu – retained their posts. Ambiguous figures, such as Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky or Minister of Education Olga Vasilyeva, were forced to leave. Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, Putin’s old associate, and still young Minister of Economic Development Maxim Oreshkin are likely to move to the Kremlin. But the fact that Anton Siluanov, who remained in his post as finance minister, is no longer the first deputy prime minister, means more to him than a loss of prestige. As First Deputy Prime Minister, he was responsible for the economic and financial policies of the government since May 2018. Now this task will be carried out by Andrei Belousov, who previously advised Putin on economic issues and is considered a person more prepared for costs and interventions.

Belousov’s appointment is directly related to the main reason for Putin’s discontent with the previous government and the departure of many long-working ministers and deputy prime ministers.

Many of them were forced to leave because, in the eyes of Putin and the public, they did too little to improve living conditions, increase incomes and social conditions that the population requires and which the president has repeatedly announced. Mishustin declared this a priority and blamed the ministers for the implementation of as ambitious as ambiguous plans. Putin expects success from this effective tax collector for the whole country – also in the light of the upcoming parliamentary elections.


The Guardian (London, UK)

Vladimir Putin approved a new cabinet of ministers in the framework of large-scale changes in the government, which are regarded as preparation for resigning from the presidency, but not from Russian politics. The presented cabinet includes a new team of deputy prime ministers and demonstrates a significant change in the composition of ministers related to social issues and cultural policy.

The new ministers will head the ministries of justice, education, health and economic development. The new head of the Ministry of Sports, which did not cope with the consequences of the doping scandal, and the Ministry of Culture, which tried to fight the influence of Hollywood and supported the production of domestic patriotic films.

The speed with which all these rearrangements are carried out surprised many. Voting on amendments to the Constitution will be held in parliament this week, because of which rumors have spread that the government may be preparing for early elections.


Financial Times (London, UK)

Russian President Vladimir Putin approved cabinet shifts in an attempt to strengthen the country’s drowning economy by attracting more technocrats to the government. The Kremlin wants the new cabinet to implement a program of “national projects” worth 25.7 trillion rubles, aimed at revitalizing the Russian economy. Last year, Putin’s support level fell to record lows against real incomes falling for the fifth year in a row …

New First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov is Mr Putin’s long-standing economic adviser, who has consistently advocated expanding the role of the state in the economy. Most of Mr Putin’s main assistants, including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and heads of all law enforcement agencies, have retained their posts.


The Wall Street Journal (New York, United States)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has appointed a new cabinet, but retained key ministers – after last week he announced far-reaching constitutional reforms that could allow him to remain in power when his term ends. These plans represent a broad revision of the balance of power in Russia and are perceived as an initiative of Mr. Putin to strengthen his control.

The events of the past week came as a surprise even to many people in the government. They launched the process, which could be a long and tense competition to succeed by 2024, when Mr. Putin must leave by law. All this happens against the backdrop of international sanctions against the Russian economy and small signs of improving relations between Russia and the West.

Translated by Kirill Sarkhanyants, Alena Miklashevskaya, Evgeny Khvostik

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