Medvedev Looking for Own Kind of People

When President Dmitry Medvedev called for the creation of a "presidential reserve" of qualified personnel for positions in the federal and regional governments, he acknowledged that the state suffered from an acute shortage of effective managers and a poor system for their selection.

While analysts agree, they said Medvedev could also use the proposed reserve and rotation of personnel to substitute his own appointments for the team he inherited from his predecessor, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Saying that nothing had been done in the past 15 years to improve the system of developing personnel for top government jobs, Medvedev pointed out that the lack of turnover had engendered incompetence, huge financial losses and increased corruption.

He said finding qualified, effective people to serve as governors was particularly difficult and called for measures to attract successful business leaders into state service.

Medvedev added that he would oversee the selection of names for the personnel reserve, which he sees as a publicly accessible database of the country's best professionals and managers.

One of the main criticisms during Putin's eight years in the Kremlin was that the important positions in the government and state-run corporations went to former classmates, KGB associates or former colleagues in St. Petersburg City Hall. Medvedev himself worked with Putin in the administration of former Mayor Anatoly Sobchak.

The Kremlin has already established basic requirements for any candidates chosen to fill the almost 20 gubernatorial posts due to open in the next couple of years, Vedomosti reported, citing an unidentified source in the presidential administration.

Candidates should have experience at managing large teams and multibillion-ruble budgets, preferably both in business and in the state service, and be younger than 55. The preference will be for people who have not worked in the security services, the source said.

He added that a list of 24 such people had already been drawn up by the presidential administration.

A Kremlin spokesman, who did not give his name, said Thursday that he was unaware of plans to pick replacements for current governors from such a list but called the idea "apparently one of the important components of the modernization that has been much talked about."

Sergei Markov, a Kremlin-connected political analyst and United Russia State Duma deputy, said that, now that Putin has provided the government with a corporate structure, it is up to Medvedev to create a reserve of personnel, just as large corporations develop their own young professionals.

"The main demand, however, will be a candidate's loyalty to the current ruling team, meaning being liberal patriots," Markov said. "Then will come successful management experience, stainless reputation and good education."

Olga Kryshtanovskaya, who studies the country's elite at the Russian Academy of Sciences, said the aim of Medvedev's plan is twofold: to create a system for selecting effective personnel and to replace Putin's appointments with his own team.

"There is no doubt that he will create his own team, but when he talks about personally overseeing the selection of candidates, I'm hesitant to say the president wants to institutionalize the system," she said.

Tatyana Stanovaya of the Center for Political Technologies also believes that Medvedev is looking to create his own team but doubts that a viable system for rotating personnel can be created.

"Russia's bureaucracy is too clannish and closed to allow the vertical mobility Medvedev is talking about," she said.

She did say, however, that creating the personnel database would allow a leader to dismantle the country's nepotistic bureaucracy, if the leader had enough political will.

While the centralization of recruitment in the Kremlin might deliver more effective managers for federal government structures, it might be less suited to identifying good governors.

In 2005, the Kremlin eliminated direct gubernatorial elections, effectively replacing them with a presidential-appointment system.

Although Medvedev spoke at length Wednesday of the need to revamp the process, he provided no indication of what a new approach might involve.

Whatever the required abilities and experience might be, leaders also have to be accepted by the local political and business elite, said Boris Makarenko, of the Institute of Modern Development, a think tank that reportedly provides consultation for Medvedev's administration on policy issues.

Examples like that of billionaire Roman Abramovich, lionized by the people of Chukotka after being appointed its governor by Putin, are rare. In the more complicated regions, like republics in the Northern Caucasus and Volga regions, there is real skepticism that this will work.

Putin appeared to have been aware of the potential problems.

There have been regular rumors in the national press over the last three years that the Kremlin was planning to appoint Suleiman Kerimov, a well-connected Dagestan-born Moscow businessman, as the region's governor. But Eduard Urazayev, Dagestan's Minister of Information, External Relations and Ethnic Politics, says Moscow understood that parachuting Kerimov was unlikely to work.

"They understood in Moscow that business-style management may not match well with the local traditions, administrative culture and lifestyle," Urazayev said.

Staff Writer Anna Smolchenko contributed to this report.