JRL HOME - RSS - FB - Tw - Support

Old Cabinet in Flux: A Look at Its Members
Anatoly Medetsky - Moscow Times - themoscowtimes.com - 4.9.12 - JRL 2012-65

The outgoing Cabinet has steered the country through one of its worst economic crises and droughts.

It can credit itself with preventing worse consequences of the economic woes by bailing out banks and major companies with windfall tax revenues from oil and gas.

"The expectation was that Russia would suffer especially greatly. I remember negative pessimistic assessments," said John Willerton, an associate professor of political science in the school of government and public policy at the University of Arizona. "But pensions are in place, wages are in place and the economy didn't dip as much as it could."

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is scheduled to deliver his last annual Cabinet performance report in the State Duma on Wednesday.

The Cabinet will resign on Putin's inauguration as president May 7.

President Dmitry Medvedev, who is expected to become the next prime minister, will then name his Cabinet.

When Putin took the office of prime minister four years ago, Medvedev endorsed his Cabinet on May 12.

Though there have been numerous media reports about which ministers will lose their jobs, where they might go and who is likely to take their place, with four weeks remaining before the Cabinet steps down, it has only recently lost some of the key players that held their posts for more than a decade.

"There has been a tremendous amount of continuity," Willerton said.

Former Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu was confirmed as the Moscow region's next governor last week. Former Industry and Trade Minister Viktor Khristenko moved to a senior position in the economic union of Russia and the two former Soviet neighbors of Kazakhstan and Belarus in February.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov moved to the role of Kremlin chief of staff in December. Former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin got the ax in September over his public criticism of Medvedev's orders to increase defense spending.

The reshuffle is also breaking family ties within the Cabinet: Khristenko is the husband of Health and Economic Development Minister Tatyana Golikova.

Were Viktor Zubkov to leave, another nepotistic relationship would end. Zubkov is the father-in-law of Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov.

Outgoing Cabinet Scorecard

Viktor Zubkov, 70, first deputy prime minister since May 2008, responsible for the agriculture, fisheries and timber industries and customs duties.

Background: He worked under Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg in the early 1990s and later helped him secure a new dacha after his original one burned down in 1995. Zubkov's son-in-law is Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov. Zubkov has been repeatedly reported to be on the way out, but there are no hints of a replacement.

High points:

*He supported and likely engineered the embargo on grain exports that helped the government maintain affordable domestic prices after the heat wave of the summer of 2010.
*Although Dmitry Medvedev's administration called the bill "legally questionable," Zubkov sponsored a retail trade bill in 2009 that supported suppliers over retail chains in reining in access fees.

Low point:

*He has been in regular conflict with the Agriculture Ministry, stating publicly in March 2011 that "The Agriculture Ministry works poorly!"