MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin has appointed a new government and many of the leaders are Putin loyalists.
Putin unveiled his new government, tightening his grip on the economy and his political control. Analysts say it will limit Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s ability to implement his reform agenda, which includes launching pro-growth policies and a privatization bid to wean Russia off its dependence on oil.
Despite this, Putin announced that he and Medvedev agreed on the government.
Putin thanked Medvedev, saying the two talked in great detail about the work that faces the new Russian government.
The president and former KGB officer also consolidated his power over security structures by keeping Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on board, along with Anatoly Serdyukov as defense minister. Long-time Putin ally Igor Shuvalov will also keep his post as first deputy prime minister.
It is this lack of change in many top positions that has Muscovite Nikolai, who did not want to use his last name, doubting that Russia’s economy or political situation will ever change.
He says that he does not expect anything from the new government, that he relies only on himself. He says that it is not even interesting to him -- probably only to pensioners and people who are not socially protected. But he says for young people, it is just go ahead and work and that is all.
Putin has faced unprecedented demonstrations since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Hundreds of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets to demonstrate against his United Russia party and its win in the December parliament elections. Many say the party won by ballot-stuffing and vote-rigging, a charge it vehemently denies.
Demonstrators also say that Putin won the presidency through a tightly controlled political system and corruption. They continue to protest his return to the Kremlin for an unprecedented third term.
Alexander, who also did not want to use his last name, says even though Putin has appointed those loyal to his government, there is hope for a better Russia.
He says there is hope for the future and that the government will do its work correctly. But he says Russians can really only guess what the government is going to do.
There are some young liberals in the government lineup, including Arkady Dvorkovich, who served under Medvedev as his economic adviser. Dvorkovich is now one of six deputy prime ministers and is responsible for energy and industry policy, a much bigger responsibility than he had under Medvedev.