A key ally of President Vladimir Putin retained his post as the Russian government’s number 2 on Monday, raising question marks over the role of new Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
“The First Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation is Igor Ivanovich Shuvalov," Putin said.
Shuvalov, 45, was named first deputy prime minister in the new government, formed two weeks after Putin’s inauguration as president for a third term. No other first deputy prime ministers were named, a departure from previous cabinets.
His reappointment signals that Russia plans to continue the economic policies pursued during Putin’s 2008-2012 stint as prime minister.
“This appointment surprised no one,” said analyst Lilia Shevtsovaat the Carnegie Moscow Center think-tank. “This government is officially Medvedev’s, but in reality it is Putin’s.”
“Shuvalov, who is a very experienced politician, will coordinate the work of other ministers,” she added.
Pro-Putin economist Andrei Belosouv takes over as economy minister, in one of the few major reshuffles.
Another close Putin ally, Igor Sechin, loses his post as deputy prime minister, but maintains influence over energy policy after Putin nominated him to the board of the main state energy holding company on his last day as prime minister.
In one other key change, Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev was replaced by Moscow police chief Vladimir Kolokoltsev. Nurgaliyev, who had been in the post since 2003, had come under criticism over a number of scandals involving Russia’s police force.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov retained his post, as did Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov. Anton Siluanov stayed on as finance minister.
Seven other deputy prime ministers were named. They are Vladislav Surkov, Dmitry Kozak, Dmitry Rogozin, Arkady Dvorkovich, Alexander Khloponin, and Olga Golodets.
Putin cited considerations over the forming of Russia’s new government as the reason for his decision to skip this weekend's G8 summit in the United States.