In a clear signal that President Vladimir Putin has chosen to maintain Russia’s political status quo, damn the western sanction torpedoes, today the lower house of the Russian Parliament approved longtime Putin ally (and former president) Dmitry Medvedev, as chairman of Putin’s cabinet, cementing his tenure as prime minister for another term, RT reports.
Of 433 lawmakers present at the Tuesday session of the State Duma, 374 voted in favor of Medvedev’s candidacy while 56 voted against it. There were no abstentions.
In accordance with Russian law, Medvedev’s government was dismissed after Vladimir Putin was sworn in as president on Monday, though all of its members will continue in their roles until a new government is formed. The prime minister now has a week to present his plans for forming his new cabinet. As it turns out, he already has a few people in mind.
According to the Russian media, Medvedev will expand the power of Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, elevating him to deputy prime minister in charge of economic development. Meanwhile, former Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov is being considered for the position of deputy prime minister in charge of defense.
Tatyana Golikova, the head of the Russian Audit Chamber, has been picked for the position of deputy prime minister in charge of social policy, labor and healthcare, replacing Olga Golodets who will become deputy prime minister in charge of culture and sports.
For now, Medvedev has said he’s only proposing ministers for key posts, but noted that other nominations will follow.
Medvedev’s candidacy was met with fierce resistance from both the Russian Communist Party (the second-largest political party in the country behind Putin’s United Russia party), as well as the center-left Fair Russia Party.
Meanwhile, as the Saker pointed out in a post about Medvedev’s renomination, many of Putin’s supporters would also be “bitterly disappointed” by Medvedev’s return, given his association with the “Atlantic-integrationists” who support a closer partnership with the West. The nomination will only spur rumors that Putin is planning to cave on his defense of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad or Russia’s support for separatists in the Donbass.
Just a quick note here (since I am inundated by emails about this): there is no way I can put a positive spin on the fact that Putin has re-nominated Medvedev as Prime Minister. I am personally bitterly disappointed and so are many others. A comment I just saw on the YouTube chat of the inauguration was succinct and to the point: “Путин кинул народ – мы не за Медведева голосовали” or “Putin betrayed the people – we did not vote for Medvedev”. This is going to be a very widely shared feeling, I am afraid.
Now, there are a number of explanations for this development including that Medvedev is an effective manager, that he has been weakened by the corruption scandals in Dagestan, that the new task-centered management doctrine of the Russian government makes personalities less important, etc.
Frankly, I don’t buy any of them. First and foremost, the re-nomination of Medvedev is a hugely important symbolic act which says the following: there will NOT be a purge of the Atlantic-Integrationist IMF/WTO/WB type, of the 5th columnist inside the Kremlin and that the (very unpopular) “economic block” of the Russian government will stay in power. In fact, this re-nomination will only pour more fuel on the fire of rumors saying that Putin/Russia will “cave in” in Syria or the Donbass or that the internal economic course will continue to remain what is politely known as “liberalism”. The devil is always in the details, but I have to say that seeing Medvedev re-nominated is, at the very least, a PR-disaster. If that is how Putin begins his term, it scares me to think of what might come next (Kudrin? Chubais?)…
Medvedev served as prime minister during Putin’s most recent term as president. Before that, he served as president while Putin ran the Russian government.
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