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Russia: weekly report (13.05-19.05)

This report presents key events that had an important impact on political, economic and social processes within Russia.

According to the results of the past week the following tendencies can be defined in the following theses:

  • Despite the anxious meeting organized by the Chinese leader to Vladimir Putin, the result of Putin’s visit to Beijing and Harbin was more than modest. Putin failed to get Xi Jinping to sign an agreement on the construction of the Power of Siberia-2 gas pipeline (Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak is tasked with additional negotiations with China on this issue). It was also not possible to agree on the full resumption of financial transactions, the transition to an exclusively national currency in mutual settlements and the gradual «dedollarization” of the economy. The agreements that the two sides signed (on the protection of Ussuri tigers, on the denunciation of long-lost treaties, on beef and topinambur exports, on cross-border initiatives) are clearly not the package Putin had hoped for. What is important, however, is that Xi has shown that he will not buckle to Western pressure and abandon military-technical cooperation with Russia. The decision to conduct joint military exercises is indicative. It seems that China is deliberately keeping Russia at a certain distance, bringing it closer from time to time and making it clear that the parties have partnership relations, and China does not need allies (China recognizes two states – either partnership or vassalage of another state, but not alliance). 
  • In the context of personnel changes in the Presidential Administration, the most important changes were the arrival of Nikolai Patrushev as Assistant to the President and the appointment of Maxim Oreshkin as Deputy Head of the Administration. These appointments show that the Administration has been strengthened and the President will control the executive vertical of power and the processes in the country as a whole even more through his Administration. Another important appointment was the long-awaited transfer to Moscow of former Tula Region Governor Alexei Dyumin, a former presidential security guard and the man who informally supervised the Special Operations Forces and private military companies. Experts point to the strengthening of the role of presidential aide Igor Levitin. Otherwise, the Administration and its structural subdivisions have not undergone significant changes. 
  • The biggest sensation was the appointment of Andrei Belousov, a man far removed from the defense sector and an economist, to the post of Defense Minister. Obviously, Belousov is tasked with putting the army in order, especially with regard to logistical and financial support, to stop corruption and abuses. The transfer to Moscow of a number of governors (Alikhanov, Tsivilev, Starovoit, Degtyarev) was supposed to demonstrate the existence of social elevators. Overall, Putin decided to balance the interests of several groups, especially the Kovalchuk’s and Chemezov’s. The strengthening of Mishustin by the “practitioner” Manturov is also indicative: Chemezov, despite the predictions of skeptics, has strengthened his apparatus positions. 

This digest looks at the following issues that were most relevant to Russia from May 13th through May 19th:

  1. Vladimir Putin’s interview with Xinhua news agency;
  2. Vladimir Putin’s visit to China;
  3. Personnel reshuffle in the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation;
  4. Approval of the new Government of the Russian Federation;
  5. Meeting with the permanent members of the Security Council;
  6. Vladimir Putin’s meeting with commanders of troops of military districts;
  7. Meeting on the development of the defense industry complex;
  8. Telephone conversation between Vladimir Putin and President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev;
  9. Vladimir Putin’s meeting with Alexander Kurenkov and Alexander Kozlov.

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This report presents key events that had an important impact on political, economic and social processes within Russia.

According to the results of the past week the following tendencies can be defined in the following theses:

  • Despite the anxious meeting organized by the Chinese leader to Vladimir Putin, the result of Putin’s visit to Beijing and Harbin was more than modest. Putin failed to get Xi Jinping to sign an agreement on the construction of the Power of Siberia-2 gas pipeline (Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak is tasked with additional negotiations with China on this issue). It was also not possible to agree on the full resumption of financial transactions, the transition to an exclusively national currency in mutual settlements and the gradual «dedollarization” of the economy. The agreements that the two sides signed (on the protection of Ussuri tigers, on the denunciation of long-lost treaties, on beef and topinambur exports, on cross-border initiatives) are clearly not the package Putin had hoped for. What is important, however, is that Xi has shown that he will not buckle to Western pressure and abandon military-technical cooperation with Russia. The decision to conduct joint military exercises is indicative. It seems that China is deliberately keeping Russia at a certain distance, bringing it closer from time to time and making it clear that the parties have partnership relations, and China does not need allies (China recognizes two states – either partnership or vassalage of another state, but not alliance). 
  • In the context of personnel changes in the Presidential Administration, the most important changes were the arrival of Nikolai Patrushev as Assistant to the President and the appointment of Maxim Oreshkin as Deputy Head of the Administration. These appointments show that the Administration has been strengthened and the President will control the executive vertical of power and the processes in the country as a whole even more through his Administration. Another important appointment was the long-awaited transfer to Moscow of former Tula Region Governor Alexei Dyumin, a former presidential security guard and the man who informally supervised the Special Operations Forces and private military companies. Experts point to the strengthening of the role of presidential aide Igor Levitin. Otherwise, the Administration and its structural subdivisions have not undergone significant changes. 
  • The biggest sensation was the appointment of Andrei Belousov, a man far removed from the defense sector and an economist, to the post of Defense Minister. Obviously, Belousov is tasked with putting the army in order, especially with regard to logistical and financial support, to stop corruption and abuses. The transfer to Moscow of a number of governors (Alikhanov, Tsivilev, Starovoit, Degtyarev) was supposed to demonstrate the existence of social elevators. Overall, Putin decided to balance the interests of several groups, especially the Kovalchuk’s and Chemezov’s. The strengthening of Mishustin by the “practitioner” Manturov is also indicative: Chemezov, despite the predictions of skeptics, has strengthened his apparatus positions. 

This digest looks at the following issues that were most relevant to Russia from May 13th through May 19th:

  1. Vladimir Putin’s interview with Xinhua news agency;
  2. Vladimir Putin’s visit to China;
  3. Personnel reshuffle in the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation;
  4. Approval of the new Government of the Russian Federation;
  5. Meeting with the permanent members of the Security Council;
  6. Vladimir Putin’s meeting with commanders of troops of military districts;
  7. Meeting on the development of the defense industry complex;
  8. Telephone conversation between Vladimir Putin and President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev;
  9. Vladimir Putin’s meeting with Alexander Kurenkov and Alexander Kozlov.

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