Following his inauguration yesterday, President Vladimir Putin accepted the resignations of his cabinet members yesterday, as is required by the Russian Constitution, along with those other officials, including Aleksandr Voloshin, head of the Kremlin administration. Putin, who had been serving simultaneously as acting president and acting prime minister, then immediately appointed Mikhail Kasyanov, who had been serving as both finance minister and first deputy prime minister, as Russia’s acting prime minister. Putin also asked the rest of the cabinet heads to remain in their posts on an interim basis. Some observers had expected Putin to announce immediately that he would submit Kasyanov’s candidacy to the State Duma for confirmation as prime minister, and the fact that he did not do so led to speculation that the appointment of Kasyanov, widely seen as the most likely candidate to head the next cabinet, is not a done deal (ORT, May 7). According to rumors, Putin might defy expectations and pick someone else to head the cabinet, such as Communications Minister Leonid Reiman, a long-time associate of the president.
On the other hand, Putin himself said yesterday that he hoped that most of the current cabinet would keep their posts. “We are in a period in our country’s life when we need stability,” he said.” We will look at the result of the ministers’ work but we will also aim for stability in power and in the state” (Reuters, May 7). In addition, State Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznev, who has increasingly become a Kremlin loyalist and insider, said yesterday that Putin would submit the name of his candidate for prime minister on May 10, adding: “We can guess who it will be” (Russian agencies, May 7). Seleznev recently indicated that Kasyanov’s candidacy would receive easy approval from the Duma. Voloshin is also expected to retain his post as Kremlin administration chief. Both Kasyanov and Voloshin are widely seen as being close to powerful business tycoons and Kremlin insiders, including Boris Berezovsky and Roman Abramovich.
MISSILE HITS WRONG TARGET.