On January 21, 2020, President Putin approved the structure of the new Russian Government and appointed Deputy Prime Ministers and federal Ministers. New Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin was appointed on January 16.
What are the key specifics of the new Cabinet?
The key specific feature of the new Russian Cabinet is that while the structural changes are minimal, the staff reshuffles proved to be radical, both in terms of the number of new people appointed to top offices and change of political status of key Cabinet members (how close they are to the President).
This is an extremely atypical decision for Putin, compared to previous Cabinets over the entire period of his stay in power. Earlier, as a rule, the Cabinets included influential figures close to the President and personally associated with him, and a system of checks and balances between different elite groups existed.
But at the same time, the decision to change the approach to the Cabinet appointments is logical in the context of a broader presidential "staff policy" over recent years - the so-called "technocratisation" of power (the appointment of young "technocratic" governors, the penetration of such figures into Medvedev's second Cabinet, the appointment of the head of the Presidential Administration, a "technocrat" Anton Vayno during the Parliamentary election campaign in 2016 and the launch of "Leaders of Russia" contest in order to select and train a "succession pool" for the top positions in the federal and regional civil bureaucracy).
The new government is characterised by a lack of clear connections of its key members with the elite groups or members of the President's inner circle, and looks less fragmented than the previous ones, even despite its members potentially differing in their personal views on the economic policies and measures needed to revive economic growth.