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Putin appoints St. Petersburgs Yakovlev new deputy PM

ST. PETERSBURG, June 16 /Prime-TASS/ -- Russian President Vladimir Putin has appointed the governor of St. Petersburg, Vladimir Yakovlev, as the new deputy prime minister responsible for the housing and communal utilities sector and related issues, ITAR-TASS reported Monday.

He will work not only on the problems in the housing and utilities sector but on everything to do with construction, architecture, inspections in this sphere, a development policy for Russian cities and will coordinate the activities of Russias entire transportation sector, Putin said.

The announcement was made during a meeting of the State Council, an advisory board of governors to the president.

Putin said that the appointment has been under discussion for a long time and the timing of the appointment was suggested by the governor himself.

Yakovlev said that according to St. Petersburgs legislation, Deputy Governor Alexander Beglov will take his place until a new governor is elected.

The city legislature will likely set the date of the election for this fall, he added.

Before taking up his new post Yakovlev is expected to take a short holiday.

Putin also awarded Yakovlev with the Order of Merits before the Fatherland of the fourth degree for his contribution to the social and economic development of the city and honest efforts over many years.

Putin also signed another decree Monday that determines that the prime minister has six deputies including one holding positions of deputy prime minister and agriculture minister and one of deputy prime minister and finance minister.

Yakovlev has long been accused by the Russian media and officials of being one of Russias most corrupt politicians allowing the city government to misspend huge amounts of state funds, while St. Petersburg, which he has headed since 1996, is considered to be the criminal capital of Russia.

Last year, Yakovlev, whose term in office would be over next year but for Mondays move, announced that he would run for the third term even though the city legislation prohibits that.

However, early in April Yakovlev said that he will definitely not do so.

He made the announcement a little less than a month after Putin appointed Valentina Matvienko, formerly deputy prime minister for social issues, as his representative in the North-Western Federal District, which immediately raised speculations that the Kremlin wants to replace Yakovlev with her.

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