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No Matter How many Times You Are Going to Shuffle....

No Matter How many Times You Are Going to Shuffle....
Michael Nejzhmakov 20.02.2007

Let's remind that in the evening on the 15th of February the President unexpectedly (at least for the majority of citizens) declared that Sergey Ivanov "will be advanced" to a post of the first vice-president of the Government of the Russian Federation but the post of Minister of Defence would be free while the chapter of governmental body Sergey Naryshkin received a post of the vice-premier responsible for foreign economic relations and contacts of the CIS countries thus keeping the present post. But having in mind that Ivanov and Naryshkin long time enough are in "presidential holder" absolutely unexpected seemed appearance of a new person – Anatoly Serdukov who earlier headed federal Tax Service - on one of the key posts in the country.

He is connected with the army by the service according to call-out many years ago. The majority of political scientists at once started talking that Putin brought additional intrigue in pre-election campaign. Having equalled Sergey Ivanov and Dmitry Medvedev in posts, he showed that their chances were equal also in presidential race. Actually - a choice of the successor – is quite unpredictable thing but at first sight Ivanov's assignment can be really considered as "a step in the future". While Medvedev is being boosted much more actively and as soon as Ivanov and he are being advanced “in pair”, there was a possibility that “chekist from Petersburg” from Ministry of Defence would head the government at “Petersburg’s layer” who would be the president. In this case he should step by step pass to the supervision of economic questions and the post of the first prime-minister – is the best stage.

However one couldn’t see special joy on the face of Sergey Borisovich in the day (evening is more exact) of the assignment. If to track redistribution of powers in the Government one can come to a conclusion that new assignment of Ivanov more likely weakens his positions and can be hardly serve as a springboard to a presidential armchair. The matter is that after long struggle the chapter of military department had already got economic functions last year so he didn’t need to leave for this purpose the post. He already headed the Board of Directors “Joint Aviaconstruction Concern”, he supervised ambitious project of major capital – elite business school for new generation of executives. Say nothing that already in March, 2006 Ivanov headed military – industrial complex commission though before similar structure was headed by prime-minister Fradkov.

It was really significant apparatus victory – for the first time since times of "heavyweight" of Brezhnev’s Politbureau Dmitry Ustinov army and «defence industry» appeared in one hands. At that already then a head of Federal agency on industry Boris Alyoshin was in submission of Ivanov that forced a number of analysts to declare: «The Chapter of Minpromenergo Victor Khristenko is turning to the almost decorative figure».

So, Ivanov actually gets nothing. While loses quite a lot together with a post of the chapter of defensive department. First of all, attention is driven by Sergey Borisovich's significant international activity - widely covered foreign visits, important applications on foreign policy themes, interviews to the western press. On this background till the latest moment he obviously looked more advantageous than Medvedev, probably, forcing the West to consider that exactly "Petersburg’s security officer" was the most probable successor of Vladimir Putin. Now he is deprived of so important image instrument as military diplomacy.   

Secondly, all years that Ivanov occupied the post of the chapter of Minister of Defense he tried to lift the status of his department having made it a key one among power structures. His idea that Minister of Defence should be considered as the assistant to Supreme commander in chief and supervises all «power block» was actively discussed recently. A lot was made by Ivanov so that to concentrate the main powers of the department in hands of minister and not of the Head of the Joint Staff. The last structure began to turn in analytical one more than in the leading. It’s doubtful that Ivanov will be glad that the fruits of his long-term pains being undertaken to the last moment will go to another person – a figure much more weaker, who hardly has such wide ambitions.

Thirdly, it’s obvious, that Sergey Borisovich cannot influence directly the military budget any more as well as to take charge of it. Not without reason both the president and prime-minister representing new chapter of the Ministry of Defence emphasized his financial functions.

Fourthly, the Ministry of Defence, certainly, is not an easy department and scandals happening in military parts do not add popularity to its chapter. However, earlier Ivanov could present also his achievements - great military budgets, formation of parts of constant alertness, significant purchases of new technique and large-scale field trainings (for the first time for many years). Now former minister has less opportunities to remind of these victories and as vice-premier he received such a direction which is routine enough and not so evident though important – it’s almost impossible to  gain "scores" before the elections here.

So, it may be so that the Kremlin "has rather delicately scored off" Ivanov instead of equalling his chances with Medvedev. As to Sergey Naryshkin's advancement to a rank of the vice-president of the Government of the Russian Federation, it is practically a formal step. His powers earlier were beyond the scope of a post of the chapter of governmental body. He not only provided "interdepartmental coordination" bearing this major in the government function due to which, for example, in Eltsin’s times Chubajs had huge apparatus weight. He was not only busy with questions of administrative reform and civil service which means - the staff which "solve everything”. He also supervised industrial policy, communication and management of the federal property. Actually, he was not less influential, than the first vice-premier but new assignment can have other important function.

According to the Russian traditions prime-minister is more frequently appointed from among operating vice-presidents of the Government and in this plan the new post can foretell new career prospects for Naryshkin. As well as the fact that now he will become more public figure.

Assignment of former tax specialist Anatoly Serdjukov Minister of Defence looks extravagantly enough. Even the retired general Sergey Ivanov was perceived by a part of militarians with scepticism - before his assignment he never did military service in the structures of Ministry of Defence, all his life being engaged in external investigation. By his first trade received before work in KGB, he got a nickname "philologist" among ill-wishers from militarians. What can we say about absolutely civilian Serdjukov?

The most probable reason of such assignment consists in the fact that the Kremlin wishes to see absolutely reliable person as the chapter of Ministry of Defence and the cohort of such people is not so large, there’s no information about the presence in its structure of professional militarians. Therefore meanwhile they appointed a person without special apparatus weight and ambitions - as a figure especially technical and, probably, temporal. However, probably such "temporal” assignment will be kept down till presidential elections.

Strange as it may seem personnel rearrangements have strengthened positions of … prime-minister Michael Fradkov though still recently analysts argued even not on the fact of his fast resignation but how quickly it would take place. After distribution of the major duties among assistants his role of apparatus arbitrator will only increase. Besides Sergey Naryshkin traditionally is considered as his carter-cousin and in fact he has got powers in the sphere of competence of Herman Gref (foreign economic relations) and Victor Khristenko (not so long ago privately supervising relations with CIS countries). By the way, as one of the leader of “Gazprom” Medvedev also was connected with policy of Russia in postSoviet republics, that is assignment of Naryshkin – is also a hit at him.

As to the struggle of two “main” Kremlin groupings conditionally called “liberals” and “security officials” - the press likes to talk about; obviously, the same balance is being kept here.

It is interesting that some political scientists consider all assignments in the government "smoke screen" for resignation of the president of Chechen Republic Alu Alkhanov and transfer of his duties (meanwhile temporary) to Ramzan Kadyrov. This person has a lot of opponents among federal politicians. Besides, all previous personnel rearrangements and events in the Chechen republic has made Kadyrov-younger practically a monopolist on a political stage of this uneasy region in what far not everyone sees a good sign. Nevertheless, February rearrangements hasn’t make observers closer to the solution of the main question which has been teasing everybody not for the first year.

Paraphrasing foreign journalist who asked a question to the Russian politicians putting them into stand we still couldn’t give an answer: «Who is Putin’s successor?»

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