"I hope that we will save the country from the inevitable, prolonged and damaging period of distributing bureaucratic posts and ministerial portfolios," said Russian President Vladimir Putin, while naming those people he intended to work with during his second term in office five days before the elections. According to Putin's vision, the new government will be more compact, with only one deputy prime minister and twice as few ministers, Izvestia points out (there used to be 30 ministers with the premier and his deputies, but now there will be 17). Even the role of the presidential staff will change: it will be turned from a parallel shadow government into an efficient and modern administrative tool. Putin explained: the re-organisation had been carried out not "to let all us gathered in this hall to become self-inflated", but "to increase the personal responsibility of every minister for his sector of work".
Presidential candidate and incumbent president Vladimir Putin has made the most of the administrative resource available to him, the newspaper writes. Not only has he dismissed one government and appointed another one, but he has also carried out the reform of the executive branch, which was described by the most sensitive members of the new cabinet as "the most serious in 100 years". It is too early to assess how effective the new structure will be. Moreover, sceptics say that it does not provide any guarantees that the number of bureaucrats will not grow or that its administrative power will not increase.
"The key factor is that Alexei Kudrin and German Gref remain in the government. They are crucial figures that mean that the course for liberal economic reforms will continue", Yevgeny Yasin, head of the Higher School of Economics, told Vremya Novostei.
Presidential hopeful Irina Khakamada has presented her election programme, which, according to her, will become the platform of a democratic opposition party with the preliminary name "Svobodnaya Rossiya" (Free Russia), Kommersant reports. Ms Khakamada intends to get down to establishing the party immediately after the March 14 presidential elections. She hopes that the party will be financed by major businessmen who "have nothing to lose".
As election day approaches, tension in the law enforcement bodies is becoming increasingly evident, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. Since March 5, 300,000 policemen have been guarding the 94,400 polling stations around the clock, with each of the stations receiving a sniffer dog and handler, as well as explosive experts, the newspaper informs its readers. Police detachments patrolling the streets and the metro stations in Moscow have been reinforced, while unprecedented security measures have been taken at airports, in commuter trains, as well as roads into the city.
Moscow suffers from a lack of teachers. In a bid to attract teachers to schools, the authorities intend to double the local weighting payments to teachers' standard wages and to introduce a 40% increase for young specialists, Gazeta writes. Apart from this, the Moscow education department and the Moscow Duma (the city parliament) propose to introduce amendments to the federal law "On Alternative Civil Service" that would allow conscription-age teachers "to fulfil their duty to the motherland without leaving the classroom".