Candidate for Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov has discussed proposals on the composition and structure of the new cabinet with Vladimir Putin. Even the government staff is in for serious changes. It is rumoured that there will be yet another attempt to reduce it by half. Its powers concerning control over ministries' activities will be diminished.
Not only the Kasyanov team will leave the government staff, Izvestia writes. The Kremlin is nursing a plan to re-organise the staff's work totally and reduce its personnel by half. This radical reform has been initiated by deputy head of the presidential administration Igor Shuvalov and German Gref, acting economic development minister, the newspaper points out. They came up with the grand plan to restructure the government last spring, when Shuvalov headed the government staff and prepared proposals on the administration reform together with Gref. However, Kasyanov believed their initiative to be too radical, Izvestia writes.
State Duma speaker Boris Gryzlov and his first deputy Lyubov Sliska are enthusiastically discussing the possibility of candidate for Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov joining United Russia (the party holds a constitutional majority in Parliament), Gazeta points out. Gryzlov laments that at present the law prohibits senior officials be members of a political party, though United Russia has repeatedly stated that it is in favour of changing this situation. "Some government members were members of United Russia's supreme council, which does not mean party membership. I believe, this is the way we could choose," the party's leader remarked. Gryzlov himself headed United Russia's supreme council when he was Interior Minister, without being a party member, the newspaper recalls.
Meanwhile Lyubov Sliska said, "if we change the law on the government and officials of this rank are allowed to join a party, I do not rule out that Mikhail Fradkov will join our party," Gazeta writes.
It seems that the change in the system of Russia's executive power, the Russian leadership has been toiling on recently will not leave out even law enforcement and security structures, Vremya Novostei has learned. The Emergencies Ministry and its head Sergei Shoigu may become victims of the plans to "optimise" the government structure. According to the newspaper, this issue, alongside the fate of purely civilian departments, is now being actively debated at consultations with the country's leadership. Moreover, it writes that a plan is being considered that will abolish the ministry and leave Mr Shoigu without a post in the new cabinet.
Anyway, the fact that the current government reform is questioning the need for the Emergencies Ministry is as no less unexpected and sensational than nomination of Mikhail Fradkov for Prime Minister, Vremya Novostei points out. Taking into account the frequency and scale of accidents in the country, the ministry has earned the reputation of an essential federal agency. Besides, it has remained the only stronghold of stability and order in the whole system of executive power, the newspaper writes.
Russian acting Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov has left for Madrid where he today will hold talks with his Spanish counterpart Ana Palacio. Generally, Moscow is satisfied with the level of Russo-Spanish relations, Kommersant points out, so the talks will focus on unsettled issues. The key problem, according to Russia, is a simplification of visa regime for Russian and EU citizens. As Kommersant has learned, Igor Ivanov will set forth proposals to Palacio to implement a bilateral agreement in this sphere, instead of waiting for a common agreement between Russia and the European Union. This idea is all the more topical as Russia has already signed a similar document with Germany and will soon sign similar agreements with France and Italy, the newspaper writes.