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Putin, seeking continuity, proposes Mishustin remain Russia’s prime minister

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May 10 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed the reappointment on Friday of Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, a technocrat who has helped him through the war in Ukraine and the economic challenges wrought by Western sanctions over Moscow’s invasion.

The Duma’s approval of the low-key Mishustin is nearly certain, as there is virtually no opposition in parliament, which has supported Putin in all his decisions, including the February 2022 invasion of Russia’s smaller neighbour.

As dictated by law, the government resigned just before Putin, Russia’s paramount leader for nearly a quarter of a century, was sworn in for another six-year term on Tuesday after winning in a landslide re-election in March.

There is no indication that Putin plans a big reshuffle of the government, which includes veteran Sergei Shoigu, in charge of Russia’s defence since 2012, and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in charge of Russia’s diplomacy for two decades.

Keeping his government intact would send a message of stability and of Putin’s satisfaction with his team’s progress at home and abroad, analysts say.

“President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin submitted to the State Duma a proposal on the candidacy of Mikhail Vladimirovich Mishustin for the post of Chairman of the Government,” the speaker of the Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, said on the Telegram messaging app.

“Today, deputies will make a responsible decision on behalf of their constituents on this issue,” Volodin said.

Mishustin, a career bureaucrat, was said to have no political ambitions before Putin tapped him as prime minister in 2020. With no background in the security services, he is not part of the so-called siloviki (strongmen) faction of intelligence veterans close to Putin.

While keeping a low profile, however, Mishustin has been credited with keeping Russia’s economy afloat after Kyiv’s allies hit the country with sanctions that have greatly complicated financing for Russian businesses and curtailed markets for the country’s vast natural resources.

Before becoming prime minister, Mishustin headed the federal tax service for a decade, where he was credited with more than doubling revenues.

In October, with Russia facing increasing sanctions, Mishustin said Moscow would simplify procedures for citizens and companies from 25 “friendly” countries – including China, India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Kazakhstan and Belarus – to invest in Russia.
At a perilous moment for Putin in June last year, Mishustin said Russia must rally around the president as an abortive mutiny by mercenaries fighting in Ukraine had presented “a challenge to its stability”.

“For this, the consolidation of the whole of society is especially important. We need to act together, as one team, and maintain the unity of all forces, rallying around the president,” Mishustin said.

Mishustin, who will speak in the Duma before the vote, must answer how he will solve a number of tasks set by Putin for the government, including “economic and regional development, and increasing the defence capability of our country”, Volodin said.

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Reporting by Reuters; Writing by Lidia Kelly; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and William Mallard

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