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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kaspersky, 27 Others Join Public Chamber

President Dmitry Medvedev appointed an illustrious list of figures to the Public Chamber late last week, including Kaspersky Lab founder Yevgeny Kaspersky and television host Tina Kandelaki, in a move that analysts said could be aimed at increasing the political weight of the body.

Medvedev has appointed the first 42 members, or one-third, of the new Public Chamber, which will convene for the first meeting of its two-year term in January, a spokesman for the body told The Moscow Times on Friday on a customary condition of anonymity.

Medvedev’s list includes 28 new members, among them Kandelaki; Kaspersky; Marat Guelman, director of a prominent Moscow art gallery; film director Pavel Lungin; and Soviet writer and public activist Daniil Granin, who is a descendant of the 19th-century writer Leo Tolstoy.

By replacing so many of the chamber’s members, Medvedev has bred “expectations that the status of the Public Chamber will rise,” Mikhail Vinogradov, a political analyst with the St. Petersburg Politics Fund, said in a telephone interview.

“But real steps are needed to change the status of the chamber,” he added.

Medvedev’s choice of the chamber’s new members, like the appointment of Kaspersky and “a big number of lawyers,” showed his priorities for the country’s development, said Dmitry Badovsky, deputy head of the Institute of Social Systems at Moscow State University and a current member of the Public Chamber.

The list of new members also includes the rector of the Higher School of Economics, Yaroslav Kuzminov; a former lawyer for jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Yelena Lukyanova; Channel One television host Alexei Pimanov; and Yelena Nikolayeva, deputy head of the Delovaya Rossia business lobbying group.

The Public Chamber, created in 2005 and largely seen as a body set up by the federal authorities to create an appearance of democracy in the country, consists of 126 members, one-third of whom are appointed by the president while the other two-thirds are nominated by nongovernmental organizations and selected by the president’s appointees. Putin formed the chamber as part of his response to the Beslan hostage-taking in September 2004 that killed more than 300 people.

Many of the current members appointed in 2007 by former President Vladimir Putin but not reappointed by Medvedev — including prominent lawyer Anatoly Kucherena; Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs head Alexander Shokhin; and Metropolitan Kliment of Borovsk and Kaluga — still have a good chance of being nominated by nongovernmental organizations, analysts said.

Medvedev reappointed 14 members of the chamber, 13 of whom were appointed by Putin, including prominent human rights activists Alexander Brod and Alla Gerber and scientist Yevgeny Velikhov.