Few people want to take Alexey Ulyukayev's office

Few people want to take Alexey Ulyukayev's office
Alexey Ulyukaev Photo: Anatoly Zhdanov / Kommersant

The position of the Economy Minister can be made more attractive if combined with the Deputy Prime Minister.

The chair of the Russian Economy Minister, left by Alexey Ulyukaev, remains vacant — the majority of potential candidates are unlikely to delve down the career ladder and face those kind of risks. Some of the applicants are not eager to bear such responsibilities without the status of the Deputy Prime Minister. As a result, the search for a new Head of the Ministry of Economy may lead to a return to ideas of reforming the institute or even the entire economic bloc.

After Alexey Ulyukaev's resignation, the dramatic pause with the appointment of a new Economy Minister has already lasted for quite some time. Perhaps, his successor will not be named until the presidential address at the beginning of December 2016. The message itself, according to Kommersant, does not yet feature major economic ideas and will focus on administrative reform instead: in particular, the one with the announcement of gradual dismantling of the presidential envoys system, after it "fulfilled its mission." It is hardly a suitable time for economic announcements — the debate about the ideas expressed by the Head of the CSR, Alexei Kudrin, which can turn into Vladimir Putin's presidential program for 2018 and beyond, will begin no earlier than December, and more likely in February and March.

Earlier this week, RNS published inside dope about the alleged short list of candidates for the post of the Economy Minister, the theme being discussed in the close circles for the whole last week. The list includes three candidates — presidential aide, the ex-Minister of economy Andrey Belousov, Central Bank First Deputy Chairman Ksenia Yudaeva and the First Deputy Head of the Executive Office, Maxim Akimov. According to Kommersant, all the candidates were discussed in September 2016, and all of them treat this position as reduction of possibilities and demotion. A solution to this problem suggested also assigning Belousov or Akimov to the position of the Deputy Prime Minister. Another claim by a source of Kommersant, which also could not be substantiated, was that the Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich may enter the Ministry of Economy, while Head of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov would also be transferred to the position of the Deputy Prime Minister and receive some of Dvorkovich's powers. For the latter, that would also be a formal demotion. Obviously, this assumption emerged in connection with the conflict over the privatization of Rosneft and the supervising responsibilities in the sector for the White House.

All of these claims are united under assumption that the economic unit itself in the White House would be transformed. The concept of this unit in itself, which combines the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economy with subordinated agencies, is quite informal — First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov "directs the unit" due to organizational responsibility, which includes most of the issues of the two institutes. Arkady Dvorkovich also "directs" both the economic bloc and the unofficial unit of the Industry and Trade Ministry and the Ministry of Energy. The powers of the Head of a social bloc, Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets (the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labor) are outlined more obviously, although they still regularly intersect with issues of other deputy prime ministers. The emergence of a new economic deputy prime minister at the White House is likely to require new reforms, similar to those that are needed for Alexey Kudrin's appointment to a ministerial post. According to unofficial reports, Kudrin has already refused to replace Alexey Ulyukayev, including with the added Deputy Prime Minister position.

Most of Kommersant's sources in the White House do not believe that deputy economy ministers (like Alexander Tsybulsky and Oleg Fomichev, who were discussed last week) or the current Acting Minister Evgeny Elin can rise to be the head of the institute. On the other hand, the idea about merging Finance Ministry and Economy Ministry, previously expressed by Igor Shuvalov, can be re-considered (albeit in a mild form of appointing a representative of the Finance Ministry as the Head of Economy Ministry). This idea no longer causes strong opposition in the Economy Ministry, including due to the fact that the disputed reform of the public procurement launched by Alexey Ulyukayev's team can be effectively completed in close collaboration with Anton Siluanov's office.

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