New Times: “In Anticipation of a Big Reshuffle”

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(Institute of Modern Russia – – January 15, 2018 –“kremlin-report%2C”-putin-and-2018-elections)

While Putin has not announced any final decisions, journalist Denis Vardanyan discusses the reshuffling expected in the Kremlin and the government after the March 18 elections. The likely candidates comprise three groups: those whose work is marred by mistakes, those who want a reassignment, and those whose fate depends on their current bosses.

Two of the nine vice premiers – Dmitry Rogozin and Vitaly Mutko – have behaved so scandalously of late that it is almost inevitable they will lose their posts. Rogozin, behind Russia’s military-industrial complex, has encountered numerous problems with failed rockets at Roscosmos.

Mutko, the sports minister, is considered responsible for the doping scandal and Russia’s non-admission to the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Other ministers at the center of public scandals are Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky with his unscholarly dissertation and Minister of Transport Maxim Sokolov, who expected to become the governor of St. Petersburg before the scandal surrounding the airline VIM-Avia.

Many predict the exclusion of Minister for Far Eastern Affairs Alexander Galushka from the post-March government due to serious disagreements with his superior, Yuri Trutnev, and Minister for Emergency Situations Vladimir Puchkov, who failed to maintain an effective department after Sergei Shoigu’s departure.

Most sources are convinced that Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev will keep his post, though Anton Vaino, the head of the Kremlin administration, has also been floated as a replacement option (Kremlin Deputy Chief of Staff Sergei Kiriyenko could then take Vaino’s place).

Others hope for new ministerial assignments or to resign altogether-Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov allegedly wants to be appointed as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, though his wish is unlikely to be granted as Sergei Lavrov remains one of the most popular members of the government.

Investigative Committee Chairman Alexander Bastrykin, Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev, Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, and FSB Director Alexander Bortnikov all hope to resign.

In information and media, Alexei Gromov in the presidential administration may also resign, though this seems less likely now that he is heavily involved in Putin’s election headquarters.

Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of RT, is also expected to resign imminently. Konstantin Ernst of Channel One Russia and Oleg Dobrodeyev of VGTRK – the largest state-owned media – have been warned that if they cannot reconcile their differences, they will both lose their positions.

The author concludes by stating the many reasons behind the predicted rotations: the loss of an influential patron, personal ambitions, public scandals that could affect Putin’s ratings, and, finally, the aging president’s desire to surround himself with officials from the younger generation of 40-50-year-olds.

New Times, В ожидании больших пересадок, Денис Варданян, 15 января 2018 г.

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