The Media Mirror - Today's Russian press review

On Thursday, the Russian press is covering Anatoly Serdyukov’s request for dismissal from his post which Russia’s President has now to consider. Mr Serdyukov is the Russian acting Defence Minister and the new Prime Minister’s close relative.

Russia’s Prime Minister met with his temporary subordinates, writes Izvestia. The new Cabinet has not been formed yet, so Mr Zubkov had to deal with the acting ministers.

At the moment, only one Cabinet seat is in danger of losing its occupant, says Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Minister of Defence, Anatoly Serdyukov, wants to resign. He told the President: the fact that Prime Minister Zubkov is his father-in-law does not allow him to continue his service at the Ministry.

Izvestia adds many are trying to find PR reasons for that. Some hint at a possible deal of an unknown nature. Some say the resignation is the only legal option for Mr Serdyukov as the law is clear: no relatives as direct subordinates.

The paper also tries to predict who has the best chance to replace Serdyukov. It is interesting, writes the paper, that there is a woman among the candidates. If it is going to be Lyubov Kudelina, currently the Chief Financial Officer at the Ministry, that will mean a mortal blow to the age-old patriarchal tradition of the Russian Armed Forces. 

Legal experts quoted by Rossiyskaya Gazeta say the law on Civil Service of the Russian Federation does not concern Federal Ministers at all. They are appointed according to the provisions of the Constitution. If there is no provision, an issue can only be solved by a separate court ruling.

Apart from that, says the paper, the notion of Serdyukov reporting directly to the Prime Minister is shaky. Defence belongs to the “Presidential block of ministries” and so the Minister reports to the President, not the PM.

The overall opinion at the Ministry, writes the paper, is that Anatoly Serdyukov acted like an officer (which he is not) and a gentleman (which he definitely is). It was an honest thing to do, concludes the paper – the only example of such behaviour in modern Russia.

Elena Ovcharenko, Izvestia’s editor, writes: the President must have had plans for Serdyukov if he appointed the man Defence Minister. It seems he did not foresee the current problem. And many believe such things do not happen to Vladimir Putin. The author points out that this particular case is not about predictions or calculations. It is more about conscience and the rule of law.