‘Reading tea leaves’: Kremlin spokesman Peskov dismisses talk of planned govt overhaul

Russian Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov. © Sergey Mamontov
Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said recent press allegations about the dismissal of the Russian government are neither new nor trustworthy, adding that Russia has no intention of adjusting its internal policy to please foreign powers.

The exercises concerning the looming sacking of the government are nothing new among the political scientists in Russia and abroad,” Peskov told reporters on Wednesday.

We are aware of the fact that they are exceptionally persistent in reading tea leaves and forecasting resignations of either separate ministers or the whole cabinet or, possibly, the prime minister,” he said.

The presidential spokesman added that speculation was released so frequently that no one saw it as worthy of attention.

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Peskov also dismissed the theory that Russia could launch a government reshuffle in order to improve relations with the West. He told reporters that President Vladimir Putin “had repeatedly demonstrated that Russia would never make some inside changes to please someone outside its borders.”

The comments came after the Financial Times published an article forecasting serious changes in the Russian power structure after the parliamentary elections scheduled for mid-September.

In particular, the British daily wrote that Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev could be replaced by former Finance Minister Aleksey Kudrin.

Kudrin served in the post for over 10 years and was named the world’s best finance minister by Euromoney Magazine. He lost his position in 2011 after publicly criticizing then-President Medvedev for increasing social and military spending.

Following his resignation, Kudrin founded and headed a think tank called the Committee of Civil Initiative, which quickly became famous for its warnings and sometimes gloomy forecasts.

Despite his conflict with Medvedev, Kudrin remained a personal friend of Putin and met with the president every two months or so to give his opinion on key economic and political issues. Putin himself has confirmed this fact, but specified it was wrong to describe Kudrin and himself as like-minded people.

In June last year, Kudrin for the first time said he was ready to return to Putin’s team if the authorities agree to hold more reforms. “I have never ruled out my return into state power. I don’t want to talk about specific positions but such a return is possible under favorable conditions – if our authorities become inclined towards reform,” he told Interfax.

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He noted there was no possibility of a return in the nearest future, adding he had already received offers to chair the Central Bank but had turned them down because he thought that under the current government course the institution would not work effectively.