Medvedev Names Political Strategist Surkov to Modernization Post

Vladislav Surkov
A picture taken on June 27, 2011, shows the first deputy head of the Kremlin administration Vladislav Surkov conferring with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev during a meeting in the Gorki residence outside Moscow.Photographer: Vladimir Rodionov/AFP/Getty

Vladislav Surkov, who oversaw Russian domestic politics as first deputy head of the Kremlin administration, was moved to the Cabinet to take charge of modernization, an issue championed by President Dmitry Medvedev.

Medvedev, who is planning to switch jobs with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin after a March presidential vote, said Surkov is ready for the new role after serving on a Kremlin commission about modernizing the economy.

“I hope our work together over the years will not only not go to waste, but will find new life in your new capacity,” Medvedev told Surkov after announcing the appointment at his residence outside Moscow today.

Surkov, 47, joined the presidential administration as a deputy head in August 1999 and served in the capacity throughout Putin’s two terms as president from 2000 to 2008, according to his official biography. The change shows that Medvedev and Putin are ready to begin political reforms, Alexei Kudrin, who was dismissed by Medvedev as finance minister in September, said in an interview on Kommersant-FM radio today.

Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets nationwide since a Dec. 4 parliamentary vote that international observers said was flawed. The ruling United Russia party, which counts Putin as its chairman and was led by Medvedev in the poll, won less than half of the vote.

Surkov said he wouldn’t be involved in attempts to defuse popular anger at alleged election fraud.

“I asked my bosses a fairly long time ago to give me the chance to start a new life in the new year,” he said in an interview with the Interfax news service after the announcement. “I was understood, and for that, my great thanks.”

In another move announced today, Vyacheslav Volodin, a deputy prime minister and senior United Russia official, was named to replace Surkov as first deputy head of the presidential administration. He will report to Sergei Ivanov, who also left as a deputy to Putin this month, to become the Kremlin chief of staff.

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