Putin keeps key ministers in new Russian government

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Russian President Vladimir Putin appointed a new government on Tuesday, keeping key officials including the ministers of foreign affairs and defense.

The list of appointments released by the Kremlin showed Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu would be staying on in the government.

The government of Putin’s longtime ally Dmitry Medvedev resigned last Wednesday, a few hours after the president announced a series of constitutional reforms.

He was replaced the next day by Mikhail Mishustin, the little-known head of Russia’s tax service.

“I sincerely wish you success... it is in the interests of the entire country,” Putin said in televised meeting with the new cabinet members.

Finance Minister Anton Siluanov and Energy Minister Alexander Novak also kept their posts, though several ministers dealing with social policy were replaced.

Putin’s announcement last week shocked Russia’s political establishment and critics have suggested the changes are aimed at allowing the president to hold on to power after his current Kremlin term expires in 2024.

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