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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gagarin's Daughter Named to Top Museum Post

President Vladimir Putin has shocked the museum establishment by replacing the director of the Kremlin's museum complex with the daughter of cosmonaut Yury Gagarin and transferring the museum's real estate to the Kremlin property department.

The appointment of Yelena Gagarina, 42, was announced late Thursday after Putin visited her family in Star City on the 40th anniversary of Gagarin's historic flight.

Before Thursday's appointment, Gagarina had worked at the Pushkin Fine Arts Museum, most recently as head of its engravings department. Weekend news reports said Gagarina has little experience in administration and was unlikely to wield any real power in her new post. Her father's idol status seemed to be the most compelling factor behind her appointment to run one of the country's top museums, which has more than 3 million visitors a year.

Storm clouds have been gathering over Gagarina's predecessor, Irina Rodimtseva, since late 1999 when the Audit Chamber found the museum had misused funds and shortchanged the government $1 million.

Culture Minister Mikhail Shvydkoi was quoted by Izvestia as saying that he had long been persuading Rodimtseva to step down, while trying to convince Gagarina to take her place.

Shvydkoi said in televised remarks that Putin's order to transfer part of the Kremlin museum's property from his ministry to the Kremlin property department headed by Vladimir Kozhin would affect only buildings — including churches and the Armory — and not the museum collections.

The shake-up coincided with a conference held by Kozhin to draw investment for his $160 million project to set up a deluxe hotel and gem-auction complex on Red Square. Interfax reported Sunday that 30 potential investors from 11 countries had gathered for the event.