Medvedev Administration to get new chief

Vladislav Surkov (RIA Novosti / Aleksey Druzhinin)
Chief Kremlin ideologist Vladislav Surkov is to become acting head of the Russian Presidential Administration, Dmitry Medvedev’s press secretary Natalya Timakova has said.

Sergey Naryshkin – who has worked as Medvedev’s chief of staff since 2008 – was elected a member of the parliament’s lower house. He topped the United Russia election list for the Leningrad Region in the December 4 poll.

"Due to the work of Sergey Naryshkin at the State Duma, first deputy head of the presidential administration, Vladislav Surkov, will be fulfilling his duties,” Timakova told journalists on Thursday, as cited by Itar-Tass. However, on Friday Timakova said Naryshkin remains the head of Presidential Administration, as the president has not signed the official’s resignation.

Naryshkin, the heavyweight politician, has decided to continue his work in the lower house, the State Duma. It has also been rumored in the media that he is one of the most-likely candidates for the post of speaker of the State Duma, after the previous chairman of the parliament – Boris Gryzlov – surrendered his deputy’s mandate.

Timakova said that the person who will replace Naryshkin in his post at the Kremlin Administration will be appointed at the end of this week or beginning of the next. However, she refused to make any predictions as to whether it will be Surkov or anyone else.

Surkov, 47, is believed to be one of the most influential politicians on the Russian political stage and the main architect of the current political system.

Surkov built his career at the same time the modern Russian state evolved into its present form. He started as a businessman, working in the advertising department of the Menatep holdings, which at that time belonged to Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

He was so successful that in the mid-90s he became the president of the Russian Advertisers’ Association. From there he moved to senior management positions in Khodorkovsky’s Menatep Bank and the Rosprom Holdings, but in approximately 1997 Surkov and Khodorkovsky parted ways and Surkov was appointed head of the PR department at Russian Public Television – the main Russian television channel.

After working in television, Surkov began his political career by joining the Presidential Administration in 1999, first as an aide to the head of the Presidential Administration, and later as deputy head and first deputy head of the Presidential Administration. As deputy head of the Presidential Administration Surkov is also an aide to the Russian president.

Russian political analysts believe that Surkov is the author of the Sovereign Democracy concept – the main political paradigm of Vladimir Putin and the Russian authorities – which stands for democratic development of society, but opposes any influence from abroad, as foreign countries are seen as economic and political competitors rather than allies.

Surkov writes poetry and prose. His verses have been used as lyrics on two rock albums and it is highly likely that he is the author of one published novel. Surkov neither confirmed nor denied these reports, but did write a critical review on the book.