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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

President Broadens Voloshin's Authority

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Kremlin Chief of Staff Alexander Voloshin, the man widely credited with orchestrating the rise of Vladimir Putin, appeared to become even more entrenched in the Kremlin on Tuesday when the president handed him control over his representatives in the seven federal districts.

The move comes after weeks of wrangling between the representatives, who were appointed in May, and the Kremlin's old guard. Although recent press reports had predicted the conflict would end with a victory for the presidential representatives, on the face of it they have lost.

Putin decreed Tuesday that the Kremlin chief of staff should coordinate cooperation between the presidential representatives and the rest of the administration. The decree also states that the representatives must heed instructions issued by the chief of staff.

Previously, the representatives were accountable only to Putin.

"The representatives, who were handpicked by Putin, have lost out to the old team," said Andrei Ryabov, a political analyst at the Moscow Carnegie Center. "This is an acknowledgement of Voloshin's influence."

The online newspaper Gazeta.ru concurred.

"The representatives' complete lack of experience in office intrigues worked against them," the web site said Monday, reporting rumors about the impending changes.

The representatives, most of whom come from the ranks of the military and law enforcement agencies, are seen as enjoying Putin's trust. In contrast, many see Voloshin as somebody Putin would like to get rid of if he could.

Ryabov said Voloshin, who was appointed Yeltsin's chief of staff in March 1999, was simply too entrenched for Putin to do anything about at the moment. Sidelining him would involve -replacing dozens of people who are loyal to him, he said, and Putin does not have those kinds of personnel reserves.

"Politically things are going pretty well for Putin," Ryabov added. "Why rock the boat?"

Sergei Markov, director of the Center for Political Studies and an editor of the Kremlin-connected web site Strana.ru, said Putin has every reason to trust Voloshin, whom he called "a great professional."

"Not only was he the person who brought Putin to power — it's no secret who ran the election campaign — but he has been very loyal," Markov said, noting that Voloshin had broken off with tycoon and erstwhile Kremlin insider Boris Berezovsky. "How could you not value that?"

Voloshin was once considered Berezovsky's man in the Kremlin, and both were part of Yeltsin's powerful inner circle known as the Family.

In 1993, Voloshin co-founded with Berezovsky the AVVA investment fund, which promised to develop a "people's car." The fund sold $50 million in shares, but few shareholders saw any returns.

Voloshin was reportedly behind the reappointment of Vladimir Ustinov, another figure with alleged links to the Family, as prosecutor general last year. Putin reportedly had been leaning toward appointing Dmitry Kozak, an old St. Petersburg ally and now a deputy of Voloshin.

Many in the media have been predicting that the decree giving Voloshin control over the representatives would be accompanied by other reforms that would get rid of the main territorial directorate, the Kremlin department in charge of regional policy. According to media reports and regional policy analysts, the presidential representatives and the territorial directorate have been engaged in a months-long power struggle.

Markov said Tuesday the territorial directorate would likely continue to exist but would be streamlined. He called the reorganization a small victory for the representatives.

But Interfax quoted Kremlin sources on Monday as saying the representatives did not get as much power as they had lobbied for. The sources said the representatives wanted some jurisdiction over federal agencies in the regions.

"The task of the representatives is to monitor, not to manage. So in that sense, the decree leaves everything as is," the sources said.