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Putin Appoints Former Ministers as Aides

Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) chairs a meeting of the new Cabinet team in Moscow's Kremlin, May 21, 2012.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) chairs a meeting of the new Cabinet team in Moscow's Kremlin, May 21, 2012.

MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin has named several new aides. They are former Cabinet members, and many analysts see the move as an attempt to weaken Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s power.

Putin’s announcement is expected to shift the center of power to the Kremlin. Many analysts say the president also may use the appointments as a center of power separate from the government.

Among the former ministers, who are now Putin’s aides, are former health minister Tatiana Golikova and former transport minister Igor Levitin. Putin also appointed former interior minister Rashid Nurgaliyev as a deputy to an influential leader on Russia's security council, which is a Kremlin advisory body. This is despite the fact that Nurgaliyev’s term was marred by police violence, corruption and abuse.

Political analyst Leonid Radzikhovsky said Putin’s decisions can mean only one thing. He said these are bureaucratic decisions, and some of these appointments appear to be professional specialists who were invited to the government. Radzikhovsky said in his opinion, this new government's lineup is not a sign of any conceptual change or a vision for the future.

This will not sit well with many Russians, who had hoped that the economy and the political situation could change in Russia. Putin has faced the biggest demonstrations since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Many say he rules the country through a tightly controlled political system and corruption. They protested against his United Russia party’s win in December’s parliamentary elections and Putin’s unprecedented return to the Kremlin for a third time.

Russian citizen Sandra Kytina said after the latest appointments, there is virtually no hope for any real political change.

She said the Kremlin is consistently ignoring the people's demands that the results of the parliamentary and presidential elections be annulled, and that new elections, both parliamentary and presidential, be held. Many Russians contend that until this is implemented, all the government's decisions will be illegitimate.

Many analysts also agree the new government appointed Monday by Putin will prevent his second-in-command, Medvedev, from implementing his reforms. These include launching pro-growth policies and a privatization bid to wean Russia off its independence from oil.

Yet, Medvedev continues to speak positively about the new government.

He said Russia needs to work on substantial reform of the state service, including introducing a contest on taking leading positions in federal executive bodies. The prime minister said he has spoken about this within the framework of an open government, and that all political positions in the Russian government have been filled according to the law.

Meanwhile, opposition activists say they will continue to protest Putin’s return to the Kremlin until a transparent political system is implemented.