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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Nazdratenko Would Be a Better Choice

President Vladimir Putin dismissed Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and nominated Mikhail Fradkov in his place. This is a joyous event, as it demonstrates that the electoral process is still being controlled from the Kremlin by PR men and not chekists -- that is by Vladislav Surkov, not Igor Sechin.

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The thing is, sacking Kasyanov was a great PR move, on a par with the strategic military and naval exercises last month attended by the president, or the announcement regarding the development of a fundamentally new strategic weapon. I don't know about missiles that can change both the altitude and direction of their flight, but sending the government packing struck three targets simultaneously.

First, it hit home with the electorate. Kasyanov finally fulfilled his role as scapegoat. He is the root of all evil in the government, who was fearlessly exposed by Grigory Yavlinsky and Boris Gryzlov -- and now he has finally been sacked. The president is fighting corruption in the government no less resolutely than he battled the werewolves in epaulets and oligarchs in limousines.

The second target is the West. No matter what newspaper you open these days, there's always an article on the impending dictatorship in Russia,the end of reforms and the dominance of the siloviki. Everyone was concerned about Kasyanov's dismissal after the election and his replacement by Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov. And then suddenly, instead of Ivanov, Fradkov was nominated. This is a man who worked in the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations back when Pyotr Aven, now president of Alfa Bank, was the minister. The clear signal being sent to the West and to the business community is that this is a man who knows his stuff and is close to the oligarchs.

And the third target is the Russian elite -- particularly the St. Petersburg wing. Putin could hardly have humiliated his loyal associates more than he did. You see, the president not long ago promised United Russia that he would form the government on the basis of the parliamentary majority.

Gryzlov was not even informed about the dismissal of Kasyanov and had to keep his mouth shut the day it was announced because he was in Kiev and could not get hold of his opinion on this matter from the president. Consultations with United Russia were set for Sunday. However, on Sunday Gryzlov said that the consultations had been postponed until Monday and that the prime minister would be announced on Tuesday. But then Fradkov's nomination was announced on Monday.

You get the impression that the president himself got scared by the greed and the voracious appetites of his entourage and so decided to make it clear to them that he favors balance.

In short, the PR effect created over the past week has been magnificent. The only thing is that it is only PR and not politics. Even the best PR cannot plaster over political problems, just as the most expensive plastic surgery cannot cure cancer.

Kasyanov has a lot to answer for: for raising tariffs on imported foreign cars, for the shameless Sheremetyevo tender, and so on. But Kasyanov is not responsible for a single major domestic or international mishap: not for Nord Ost or for Chechnya, not for the arrest of Mikhail Khodorkovsky or the catastrophic decline of Russia's reputation in the West.

We have a "technical" government. The full extent of its powers is its ability to make a bit of a dent in the budget by handing out airports free of charge, for example. The real locus of decision-making is the president and his inner circle, and no one has dismissed them. The only obligatory requirement for a government member is that there be plenty of kompromat on them. Government appointments are made on the same basis as KGB agents are recruited. In this sense, Yevgeny Nazdratenko, Vladimir Yakovlev or Vyacheslav Ivankov (better known as "Yaponchik") would be ideal prime minister material. But Fradkov will do.

Yulia Latynina is a columnist for Novaya Gazeta.