17:20 GMT +321 September 2018
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    MOSCOW, APRIL 1, RIA NOVOSTI - A sweeping federal executive reform has reduced the number of Russian ministers to nine, their deputies eighteen, and ministerial department heads to a hundred, as against a previous 250. The reform concerns, for now, only ministries outside direct subordination to the federal President-so the figures come only as an interim result.

    The number of top-level functionaries is dramatically shrinking. In exchange, they are upgraded to become something like the country's top managers.

    A dramatic numerical reduction met departments of all ministries except the Foreign, Defence, Emergency, Justice and Interior. Their total number has shrunken to a mere hundred. Department directors will now make a cohort of top federal managers, who will determine government policies and draw legal acts, said Alexei Kudrin, Finance Minister. He addressed the media immediately after the federal Cabinet finished a session to approve new ministerial personnel arrangements.

    Each minister's two deputies will coordinate department heads' policy-making and legislative efforts.

    The hundred department directors will also have two deputies each. The number of top national managers will thus make three hundred.

    The administrative reform envisages 46 federal service and agency heads, with 123 deputies-169 high-level executives, in total.

    Russia is receiving a simple vertical top-to-bottom administrative pattern, which will not hamper dynamic and efficient work, commented Mr. Kudrin.

    All nine ministers the reform has hitherto concerned will appoint their deputies within next week, said Dmitri Kozak, chief of government staff and one of the reform masterminds.

    Federal agencies and services are in for just as drastic personnel reductions, he warned. "The number of boards and departments will be cut several-fold. They are key objects of the administrative reform. <...> If the patterns prove viable, similar personnel cuts will spread down to the regional and local levels." Previous first deputy chief of Kremlin staff, and one of the most prominent men on the presidential crew, Dmitri Kozak knows how to bring the most problem-laden Russian reforms to practical success. No wonder, he was officially appointed today head of a unified commission for the administrative and executive reform.

    The ministers directly subordinate to the federal President will not escape the reform-it has only been put off for them, and work on respective draft resolutions is well underway, warned Mr. Kozak. The matter concerns the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry for Emergency and Calamity Relief, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of the Interior.

    The reform will gain pace in those ministries, too, as soon as the Finance Ministry makes public its initiatives to change remuneration in ministries and other federal executive bodies, added Alexei Kudrin.

    As he sat in conference with President Vladimir Putin after the Cabinet session today, Yuri Chaika, Justice Minister, announced his ministry's top personnel to be reduced three-fold or even more, to a mere 506 against a current 1,700-that one is not waiting for the reform to come from above.

    Figures dominated the agenda of today's Cabinet session, even after Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov recently pointed out that personnel reduction was not an end in itself. Enhanced efficiency is what the reform is really about. Led by the "one man/one function" principle, it aims to put an end to duty doubling, stressed the Premier.

    However resolutely the Cabinet might be operating figures at today's session, the most interesting-tentative salaries-were left without mention. They have been roughly determined by now for top ministerial functionaries, but more precise rise prospects will come from the Finance Ministry only in five days, Alexei Kudrin said to the media.

    Taxpayers do not stand to lose with the administrative reform-on the contrary, they will gain, reassured Dmitri Kozak. The reform will have all the greater effect as the public confronts the rulers, he added.

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