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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Defense Exec Tapped for Industry Post

Itar-TassGerman Gref, left, greeting Sergei Ivanov at Thursday's Cabinet meeting.
The first signs of a shake-up in key economic posts in Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov's new government came Friday as the head of a firm affiliated to Rosoboronexport was appointed a deputy industry and energy minister.

Denis Manturov, head of Oboronprom, in which state arms trader Rosoboronexport holds a 31 percent stake, was appointed a deputy minister Tuesday -- one day before the resignation of Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov, according to a statement on the government's web site Friday.

The appointment appears to strengthen the influence of Rosoboronexport chief Sergei Chemezov, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin.

Since Zubkov's nomination by Putin on Wednesday, speculation has been rife about possible casualties among liberals in the new Cabinet, which will be named this week. Among the ministers seen as the most likely to be ousted are acting Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref and acting Health and Social Development Minister Mikhail Zurabov.

Manturov, whose appointment has been in the works at least since spring, is expected to replace acting deputy minister Andrei Reus, who is to get a comfortable job elsewhere, a source said.

Manturov has been general director of Oboronprom, an industrial and investment group in which the federal government owns 51 percent, since 2002.

Rosoboronexport owns stakes in VSMPO-Avisma, the world's largest titanium producer, AvtoVAZ, the country's biggest carmaker, and RusSpetsStal, which supplies steel to the aerospace and military sectors.

Late last month, former Rosoboronexport official Vladimir Artyakov became governor of the Samara region.

A Rosoboronexport official said Friday that the appointment was in line with the latest changes in the government.

"The new prime minister is currently enlisting cadres," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with the media. "The appointment dovetails with the recent changes."

For MT
Denis Manturov
Kommersant reported in April that Manturov was in the running for a deputy minister's post in the Industry and Energy Ministry. The government's resignation earlier this week and widely expected changes in the Cabinet appear to have speeded up Manturov's appointment.

Reus could become Russia's representative to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, the source said. OPEC spokespeople could not be reached for comment Friday.

Acting Industry and Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko currently has three deputies. Manturov would likely become the fourth, ministry spokesman Vladimir Dubrovin said.

Dubrovin did not confirm whether Manturov would replace Reus and could not say whether Khristenko would leave his post.

Oboronprom spokesman Ilya Yakushev confirmed Manturov's appointment Friday, saying he would be in charge of overseeing the defense industry and the civilian heavy machinery sector at the ministry. Yakushev said it was still unclear who would replace him at the company.

Zubkov, whom the State Duma confirmed as prime minister Friday, is soon expected to announce the new lineup of the Cabinet. By law, he has one week to submit his proposals for a new government to Putin.

Some have predicted Gref's imminent departure. Gref's aide Alla Borisenkova said Friday that she was not aware of any possible changes and declined to speculate.

The future of another key official, acting Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, remained unclear Friday. Andrei Saiko, a spokesman for the Finance Ministry, said he was not aware of any possible changes.

"Our ministry is working as usual," Saiko said.

Natalya Volchkova, an economist with the Center for Economic and Financial Research, said she hoped the new government would retain or have as many liberals as possible.

But if Manturov's appointment was any indication of the future make-up of the Cabinet, the next government might have more officials lobbying the interests of large state-controlled business, she said.

"It may be a sign that the government is becoming more conservative," Volchkova said.

Yevsei Gurvich, head of the Economic Expert Group, refused to speculate on the lineup of the new government. "There have been so many surprises of late that it is difficult to speculate on what the economic bloc in the new government will look like," he said.

Staff Writer Tai Adelaja contributed to this report.