Replacing the irreplaceable: Russia's new economic tandem

27th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

The two men handed control of Russian finance following the ouster of veteran finance minister Alexei Kudrin are contrasting individuals faced with the task of swiftly winning investor confidence.

The shock dismissal of the well-respected Kudrin -- an 11-year veteran who was widely praised in the West for his conservative spending habits -- prompted Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to break up the massive job in two.

Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov has been asked to oversee Kudrin's duties as deputy prime minister in charge of the economy and finance.

Kudrin's little-known deputy Anton Siluanov meanwhile was promoted to his boss's post at the ministry and will presumably be tasked with more targeted assignments such as putting the finishing touches on the budget.

The fresh-faced Shuvalov is a 43-year-old attorney by training who began his career in a private law firm before working his way up to become an instrumental part of Putin's team.

His first government work in 1997 saw him join the state property committee and then Putin's presidential administration in 2003.

Shuvalov had previously overseen Russia's industrial policies and was mostly known in public for his role in helping Putin bring the football World Cup tournament to Russia for the first time in 2018.

The sleek-dressing English speaker may be most familiar to Western investors for his role as Russia's representative to the G8 and other international clubs -- a role he last filled abroad in January at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The country's new finance minister Siluanov for his part is a career bureaucrat from Moscow who has served as Kudrin's deputy since December 2005 and has spent his career very much behind the scenes.

Analysts said Siluanov's first assignment will rest in presenting Russia's new budget to parliament this autumn and questioned whether he would be a long-term appointment.

The 48-year-old Muscovite has kept a very low-profile within one of the country's most powerful ministries and most recently dealt with the regional distribution of federal budget payments.

He earned a degree in economics in 1985 and joined Communist Russia's finance ministry that year before moving on to hold various jobs in the post-Soviet ministry.

Siluanov was put in charge of helping draft the budget for the first time in 2004.

His close work with Kudrin on the issue suggests that Siluanov shares his former boss's hawkish approach to spending -- an issue that ultimately saw the long-standing minister lose a showdown with President Dmitry Medvedev.

Both face a huge challenge, even as a joint team, in replacing Kudrin who had served as finance minister since 2000 and won the trust of investors for his canny stewardship of the economy.

Mass-circulation daily Komsomolskaya Pravda -- widely seen as a loyal Kremlin follower -- acknowledged the magnitude of the changes. "The president made his 'irreplaceable' finance minister resign," it said.

© 2011 AFP

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