President Vladimir Putin on Monday appointed a Cabinet that has a strikingly familiar look.
Most ministers either held on to their seats, received promotions from deputy ministers or came over from the Kremlin.
The shuffle cements Putin’s grip on power while fulfilling a promise by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev that three-fourths of the faces would be new.
Igor Shuvalov will be the second-in-command in the Cabinet, retaining the rank of first deputy prime minister.
He will be the only first deputy prime minister: Putin named no replacement for the other person with this rank in the previous Cabinet, Viktor Zubkov.
In another organizational change, the Health and Social Development Ministry will be split in two, the Sports Ministry lost its “tourist” portfolio, and a new ministry was created to develop the Far East.
Putin warned the new Cabinet that they faced a tough challenge amid global economic turmoil.
“The situation in the global economy is unclear; there are quite a lot of factors that make it opaque,” Putin said in televised remarks. “You will have to fulfill a program of Russia’s development in these conditions.”
After the Kremlin meeting, Medvedev and the ministers headed to the Cabinet building, where Medvedev set seven goals to achieve in the next six months.
“People will read into these deeds, rather than papers, to see the Cabinet’s real course,” he said.
He said a new schedule for privatizations should be made to carry out the plans the government announced earlier.
Another goal is to move fast with salary increases for social-sector employees to levels already announced. He was apparently referring to instructions by Putin to raise salaries for teachers to the average income level in a given region.
The Cabinet will also have to propose a budget for the next year and develop at least five federal development programs to start implementing next year. It wasn’t immediately clear what he was referring to.
Medvedev also said measures in the next six months should seek to improve the investment climate according to the road maps developed by the Strategic Initiatives Agency. The government should also discuss its measures with the Open Government and hire more staff through competitions.
In the new Cabinet, Arkady Dvorkovich, former presidential economic aide, will wield significant power as deputy prime minister in charge of industry, including the oil and gas sectors, filling Igor Sechin’s shoes.
Olga Golodets, one of the few newcomers, will serve as deputy prime minister for social issues, Putin said at a Kremlin naming ceremony. Most recently, she was a deputy to Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, covering health care and education since December 2010. For almost a decade until 2008, she worked as Norilsk Nickel deputy director for personnel.
Vladislav Surkov, Dmitry Kozak, Dmitry Rogozin and Alexander Khloponin preserved their positions as deputy prime ministers. Surkov will also be the Cabinet’s chief of staff, Putin said.
The Kremlin and the Cabinet didn’t spell out any other responsibilities for the deputy prime ministers.
Former Deputy Finance Minister Alexander Novak will head the Energy Ministry, replacing Sergei Shmatko. He said Dvorkovich would take charge of oil, gas and other industries, RIA-Novosti reported.
Anton Siluanov, the former acting finance minister, will continue heading the ministry. A long-serving ministry official, he was a deputy to former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin before replacing him last fall.
Andrei Belousov became economic development minister, coming from a Cabinet economic department. He previously served as deputy economic development minister.
Following Putin’s intention to give a greater focus to the development of the Far East, the government will have a new ministry dealing with exactly that. Presidential envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Viktor Ishayev received the portfolio, retaining his envoy rank.
Moscow city police chief Vladimir Kolokoltsev is the new interior minister. He replaces Rashid Nurgaliyev.
Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held onto their jobs.
The youngest-ever minister, Nikolai Nikiforov, 29, will head the Communications and Press Ministry. He is coming from the same position in the Tatarstan republic.
Businessman Mikhail Abyzov will coordinate the Cabinet’s relations with the expert community called the Open Government, a brainchild of Medvedev, in the capacity of a minister, but he will have no ministry.
Denis Manturov, until recently deputy industry and trade minister, is the new head of the ministry.
The same goes for Sergei Donskoi, now natural resources and environment minister and formerly deputy minister. He is replacing Yury Trutnev.
Veronika Skvortsova, former deputy to Health and Social Development Minister Tatyana Golikova, is the new health minister.
The other part of the formerly larger ministry is now called the Labor and Social Development Ministry. Another Golikova deputy, Maxim Topilin, is the minister.
Nikolai Fyodorov, leader of the Chuvashia republic until 2010, received the portfolio of agriculture minister, replacing Yelena Skrynnik. He most recently was a member of the Federation Council and last May headed an institute at Putin’s request to propose a platform for Putin’s campaign-time umbrella group the All-Russia People’s Front.
New Regional Development Minister Oleg Govorun is coming over from the Kremlin, where he oversaw domestic policy.
Like Belousov, new Transportation Minister Maxim Sokolov is leaving a Cabinet staff position to become the minister. Sokolov used to be chief of the Cabinet’s industry and infrastructure department for the past two years. He previously worked in the St. Petersburg city government.
Vitaly Mutko held on to his sports minister job. The ministry lost its “tourism” responsibility.
Alexander Konovalov remained justice minister.
Former Deputy Emergency Situation Minister Vladimir Puchkov received promotion to be the minister.
Writer and chairman of the previous State Duma’s culture committee Vladimir Medinsky is the new culture minister.
The new education minister is Dmitry Livanov. He most recently was director of the Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys, and served as deputy education minister before.