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Putin reappoints technocrat prime minister as fifth term kicks off

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin. Copyright Dmitry Astakhov, Sputnik, Government Pool Photo via AP
Copyright Dmitry Astakhov, Sputnik, Government Pool Photo via AP
By Euronews with AP
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Russian legislators will approve a new Putin cabinet in a rubber-stamp exercise following an election from which genuine opponents were excluded.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin reappointed Mikhail Mishustin as the country's prime minister on Friday, keeping on a technocrat who has maintained a low political profile.

Most other cabinet members are expected to keep their jobs, though the fate of Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu appears uncertain.

In line with Russian law, Mishustin, who has held the job for the past four years, submitted his cabinet's resignation on Tuesday when Putin began his fifth presidential term at a glittering Kremlin inauguration.

Mishustin, the former head of Russia's tax service, steered clear of political statements and avoided media interviews during his previous tenure.

He and other technocrats in the cabinet have been credited with maintaining a relatively stable economic performance in the face of punishing Western sanctions imposed after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Under the constitutional changes approved in 2020, the lower house approves the candidacy of the prime minister, who then submits cabinet members for legislators' approval.

The changes were ostensibly meant to grant parliament broader power, but the procedure is widely seen as pro forma given how tightly the Kremlin controls the legislature.

Most cabinet members are expected to keep their jobs, but it was not clear if Shoigu, the defence minister, would be among them after last month's arrest of his top associate, Timur Ivanov.

Shoigu was widely criticised for Russian military's setbacks in the early stage of the fighting in Ukraine. He faced scathing attacks from Wagner mercenary group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, who led a convoy toward Moscow nearly a year ago to demand the ouster of Shoigu and the chief of the General Staff, General Valery Gerasimov.

After Prigozhin's death in a suspicious plane crash two months after the rebellion – widely seen as the Kremlin's revenge – Shoigu appeared to shore up his position. But Ivanov's arrest has again drawn speculation about Shoigu's vulnerability.

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