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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Serdyukov Resignation Questioned

Acting Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov's resignation Wednesday was attributed to his relationship to new Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov, but a closer look at the relevant legislation has led to speculation that the move was designed to bolster Zubkov's image.

Zubkov cited a law prohibiting relatives from working under each other in government service when announcing the departure of Serdyukov, his son-in-law. But as defense minister, Serdyukov reported to President Vladimir Putin and not the prime minister, meaning that the law did not apply, analysts said.

"Technically, if Serdyukov had to resign, that would mean that he is related to Putin," said Mikhail Delyagin, director of the Institute for the Study of Globalization.

He added that because it took six days for Zubkov to raise his relationship to Serdyukov as a problem, the decision probably had less to do with legal concerns than image politics.

"It has nothing to do with the observance of the law," Delyagin said. "This is just a PR stunt."

Dmitry Oreshkin, the head of the Mercator think tank, said he believed the order came from higher up.

"I think the Kremlin is working on Zubkov's image," Oreshkin said. "They want to present him as an honest man who doesn't want to break the law -- even to help his son-in-law."

Zubkov, who rose from relative obscurity to high office when Putin appointed him last week, has already said he may consider running in the March presidential election if he performs well as prime minister.

Yury Korgunyuk, an analyst with the Indem think tank, also believes the resignation was an image-making exercise for Zubkov, adding that it might even be too soon to count Serdyukov out.

"I wouldn't be surprised if Serdyukov ultimately remains in the post," Korgunyuk said.