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25 Sep, 2007 14:37

The female touch: two women get Cabinet jobs in reshuffle

Two women are among three new ministers promoted to the Cabinet in a government reshuffle. Tatyana Golikova takes over as Minister of Health and Social Development while Elvira Nabiullina replaces her former boss at the Ministry of Trade and Economic Development.

Popularity poll

Politics and style

At the first meeting of the new Cabinet on Monday, President Putin said the aim of the reshuffle was to strengthen the Government and to improve the quality of its work.

“The Government’s effectiveness has been lowered lately, possibly due to the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections. At this crucial period we have not only to ensure the stable work of the government but also rapidly push forward our strategic plans,” he said.

Sergey Ivanov and Dmitry Medvedev have been re-appointed as First Deputy Prime Ministers. Sergey Naryshkin and Aleksandr Zhukov also remain in their seats.

Aleksey Kudrin – who retains his old post as Finance Minister – has been promoted to become a Deputy Prime Minister himself. Some commentators say the fact that Mr Kudrin held on to his job as well as winning promotion is a good sign: “There’s one pleasant signal given by the changes – liberals are there, and even holding higher positions,” said Irina Kobrinskaya from the Institute of World Economy and International Relations.

Tatyana Golikova, who spent almost two decades at the Ministry of Finance, replaces Mikhail Zurabov as Health and Social Development Minister. The post is one of the toughest in the Cabinet and she’ll need more than just a healthy dose of dedication. Her predecessor Mikhail Zurabov became one of the most unpopular people in the country after a series of reforms.

Another official to move up a step is Elvira Nabiullina. She replaces German Gref, her former boss at the Ministry of Trade and Economic Development. Both have liberal views and vast experience in economic policy. But unlike her predecessor, Ms Nabiullina is not so 'political'.

“Ms Nabiullina is very experienced. She has been German Gref’s deputy for years and years. She is a very good strategic thinker, she is super competent. She is obviously more inspired than Mr Gref lately who, as we know, offered his resignation several times. And Ms Tatyana Golikova, she has been working in Government fiscal departments for many years and she knows the budget well,” says political analyst Tatyana Malkina.

The Market’s biggest worry was that Finance Minister Kudrin, known for his conservative and responsible fiscal policy, would step down.  His macro economic policy has been one of the pillars of Russia’s recent economic growth. In that sense the fact he is promoted signifies that President Putin approves Kudrin’s policies and sends again a signal to the markets that these policies will continue.Sergey Guriev, Head, New Economic School

The third new minister appointed to the cabinet is Dmitry Kozak. He takes over as the Minister of Regional Development after three years as a presidential representative in Russia’s southern district. He's credited with helping to bring stability to the Northern Caucuses. He'll now be expected to apply his skill and experience to all Russian regions.

“He’s been very successful in dealing with the difficult situation in Chechnya, bringing about progress and development there, so his promotion to Minister of Regional Development will hopefully bring some more energy and life to efforts to deal with so many problems around the Russian regions,” said Rose Gottemoeller from Moscow’s Carnegie Center.

President Putin has also appointed Aleksandr Kolmakov to the post of First Deputy Defence Minister.  Mr Kolmakov was previously Russia's Paratroop Forces Commander-in-Chief.

The changes are dominating the front pages of the Russian newspapers.
The media's response to the new Cabinet has largely been moderate, as the press believes the general direction of policies will stay the same.
However, Finance Minister Aleksey Kudrin's additional appointment as Deputy Prime Minister has attracted attention. The move is seen as strengthening the liberal wing of the Government. Some analysts suggest his role might continue to grow in the future.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin press service says that President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree on the set-up of government bodies including ministries, services and agencies as well as state committees.

The decree forms the backbone of Russia's government structure.

Popularity poll

An opinion poll has been carried out to find out how voters rate Kremlin ministers.  The research was conducted by the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Centre.
The results suggest Emergencies Minister Sergey Shoigu, First Deputy Prime Ministers Sergey Ivanov and Dmitry Medvedev, as well as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, are the favourites.
Education and Science Minister Andrey Fursenko is the only one of the three most ‘unpopular’ ministers who managed to remain in office. The other two are former Health and Social Development Minister Mikhail Zurabov and former Trade and Economic Development Minister German Gref.
Finance Minister Aleksey Kudrin is the most controversial one according to the poll. He received nearly equal numbers of positive and negative votes. Mr Kudrin will now combine his post in the Finance Ministry with that of Deputy Prime Minister.

Politics and style

With the political reshuffle it’s not just new policies that will be drawing the Russian public’s attention.

Replacing Mikhail Zurabov as Heath and Social Development Minister, Tatyana Golikova is not only a woman but a woman who is eye-catching.

She had been working at the Finance Ministry for two decades and stepped into the media’s spotlight when her love affair with the Minister of Industry and energy Viktor Khristenko was made public. With her new position Ms Golikova and her fellow minister and husband are set to be a golden couple.

Another woman who joined the Cabinet, Elvira Nabiullina, took over German Gref’s job as Minister of Trade and Economic Development. Her ‘black suit’ style seems to significantly differ from his colourful wardrobe.

“It's not unbelievable that these women are going to be the main focus. They are new, talented and promising women and everything is going to circle around them,” believes Olga Vandysheva from Komsomolskaya Pravda.