Deputy PM, ministry official take over finance duties: Putin

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Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov and a largely unknown finance ministry official are to share the duties of ousted Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Tuesday.

Putin named low profile Deputy Finance Minister Anton Siluanov as acting finance chief to replace Kudrin, describing the new minister as a "good, strong specialist".

But crucially, Kudrin's duties as deputy prime minister in charge of the economy and finance are to be taken on by Shuvalov, one of the most visible members of the Russian government.

"Both these (decisions) have naturally been agreed with President Dmitry Medvedev. It is our joint decision," the prime minister told a cabinet meeting after Kudrin's sensational ousting the day earlier, quoted by Russian news agencies.

Kudrin was forced to resign after criticising Medvedev's economic policies, which earned him a bitter public rebuke from the president.

He was the first casualty of Russia's new political strategy that would make Medvedev prime minister when Vladimir Putin returns to the Kremlin in 2012 elections.

"I call on you all to worthily fulfill your duties until the new (post-election) government is formed and to increase discipline and responsibility," Putin told his cabinet.

© 2011 AFP

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