Putin plan to rejuvenate Russian politics makes slow progress

From Reuters - November 20, 2017

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Poised to run for a fourth term, President Vladimir Putin has started clearing out the old Russian political elite and says hes bringing in young people with fire in their eyes.

But a Reuters analysis shows that he has made limited progress so far.

In the run up to March elections that are expected to hand him a mandate to stay in power until he is 70, Putin says he is promoting a new generation of officials to drive Russias economic and political future.

One fifth of the countrys 85 regional governors have been replaced this year and almost half of the lower house ofparliament changed in elections last year after Putin brought in a new chief of staff.

The Reuters analysis of political appointments shows, however, that in the cabinet, the upper house of parliament, the Security Council and the presidential administration, the pace of change has slowed and the average age is almost three years higher than when he began his third term in 2012.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on the findings. He said it would take too long to check the data.

With no change expected at the very top, critics say the lack of fresh blood translates into a dearth of fresh ideas to stimulate politics and the economy.

There are similarities with the era of (Soviet leader Leonid) Brezhnev in that weve fallen into a malign stability from which theres no way out, Dmitry Oreshkin, an independent political analyst, told Reuters.

Opposition protesters are fond of photoshopping Putins face onto Brezhnevs torso on placards, implying that Putin and the system he has built is as stagnant as Brezhnevs Soviet Union, a charge the Kremlin rejects.

For Putin there are no risks because the system works and obeys him, said Oreshkin. The risks are for the country and the economy. The model of stability is underpinned by a system of loyalty and corruption. Outside Moscow, which is rich, there is stagnation.

Weighed down by Western sanctions for its 2014 annexation of Ukraines Crimea and backing for a pro-Russian uprising in east Ukraine, the Russian economy, though recovering, remains fragile and vulnerable to oil fluctuations and new sanctions.

Russia's aging political elite:


Reuters compared the profiles of 784 current regional governors, members of the upper and lower houses of parliament, the government, the Security Council, and the presidential administration -- to 768 who were in power in May 2012.

It found little sign of renewal in the cabinet, the upper house of parliament, the Security Council and the presidential administration.

Of the 784 positions, 314 had changed hands in the last two years, fewer than in May 2012 when that figure was 368. Often when officials left their posts, they showed up in other jobs.

There were fewer changes in the cabinet, the upper house of parliament, the Security Council and the presidential administration.



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