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16 Jan, 2020 00:06

IT expert, hockey fan & piano player: Meet Russia’s Prime Minister candidate Mikhail Mishustin

IT expert, hockey fan & piano player: Meet Russia’s Prime Minister candidate Mikhail Mishustin

Mikhail Mishustin managed to stay out of the spotlight as Federal Tax Service boss, yet his high-profile colleagues now describe the PM candidate as not just a true professional, but a colorful personality to boot.

The parliament will decide if Mishustin is fit for the job on Thursday, after President Putin suggested him for the PM role on the heels of a surprise resignation of Dmitry Medvedev’s government. The candidate already held hour-long talks with top MPs at the State Duma, after which speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said that Mishustin was well-known to lawmakers.

“He’s a man who has made a reputation for himself by creating a high-tech Federal Tax Service from scratch with the use of state-of-the-art technologies, the digital economy,” Volodin pointed out.

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Mishustin has headed up the Federal Tax Service since 2010 and was dubbed the “taxman of future” in a recent Financial Times profile, which noted his efforts to streamline his department’s work throughout the country. While the effort got off to a rocky start, he managed to simplify taxes for everyday Russians by creating the so-called “single-window” system, cutting down on paperwork by digitizing much of the process and constructing a massive unified database last year. Russia has seen a boost in revenues thanks to the reforms.

“He also knows modern technologies better than anyone else,” said Russian hockey-legend-turned-politician Vyachslav Fetisov, praising the PM candidate as “very responsible and systematic, which is very important nowadays.”

Born in Moscow, Mishustin worked in the computer and IT sector throughout the 90s and joined the tax service near the end of the decade, when he began his career as a civil servant. Holding a doctorate in economics, he oversaw the opening of the first special economic zones in Russia and in the early 2000s was put in charge of the Federal Real Estate Cadaster Agency. In 2008 he left the civil service to work for an investment company, only to return to head the tax service two years later. Forbes estimates that Mishustin earned some 78 million rubles, or over $2 million dollars, in 2009.

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Volodin said the PM candidate could count “openness” and “dynamism” among his best qualities, adding that the 53-year-old’s “extensive knowledge of what’s happening in Russia’s regions” only adds to his credentials.

Besides his expertise in technology, business and government operations, Mishustin seems to have a number of other creative interests and hobbies. He composes music and plays the piano, and is said to be a decent hockey player, according to Fetisov. With all the challenges ahead, however, it’s unclear if he’ll find time to practice.

“I don’t know if should I envy or pity Mikhail Mishustov,” Fetisov joked.

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