Putin reappoints same prime minister following Russia’s sham election

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Vladimir Putin has reappointed Mikhail Mishustin as the country’s prime minister after being reelected himself, the conclusion of an election period widely dismissed as a sham for offering Russians no real option for political change.

A relatively unknown figure outside of Russia, Mr Mishustin’s low-key political presence in the Kremlin – and therefore lack of any threat to Mr Putin’s total grip on power – is likely his main qualification for the role, experts have suggested.

The 58-year-old technocrat is one of a number of Russian officials sanctioned by Western countries following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Putin formally began his fifth presidential term this week, and on Tuesday Mr Mishustin submitted his cabinet’s resignation. His candidacy to return as prime minister has now been submitted by Mr Putin and the State Duma is set to hold a session on Friday to consider and clear it, said Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of parliament’s lower house.

The lower house is required to approve the candidacy of the prime minister under the constitutional changes approved in 2020. The appointed prime minister then submits candidacies for cabinet members.

Mr Mishustin’s approval is seen as mere proforma in a parliament that is heavily controlled by the Kremlin. Most cabinet members are also expected to keep their jobs and their reappointments are expected shortly.

A former head of Russia’s tax service, Mr Mishustin has avoided media interviews and remained largely invisible when it comes to both domestic and international matters.

He was first appointed as the head of government in January 2020 before the pandemic gripped the world, replacing Mr Putin’s close aide Dmitry Medvedev.

Experts say that like with Mr Medvedev before him, Mr Mishustin is appreciated by Russia’s president for his loyalty above all else. At times he has been shown on Russian television fielding questions from Mr Putin on government tasks and deadlines – a bizarre mock display of government accountability.

Last month, Mr Mishustin submitted an annual report to parliament and said his government had faced "very complicated" conditions but succeeded in adapting Russia’s economy to Western sanctions and delivering on targets set by Mr Putin, to whom he referred 67 times in official excerpts of his speech.

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