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  • The new Premier Mikhail Mishustin doesn't belong to a political party and has always stayed away from politics.

    The new Premier Mikhail Mishustin doesn't belong to a political party and has always stayed away from politics. | Photo: Reuters

Published 16 January 2020

Officials in the government describe the new PM as an effective administrator who has a very good knowledge of the economy.

Russia's Duma (Parliament’s lower house) validated Thursday the nomination by President Vladimir Putin of Mikhail Mishustin as the country's new premier and formally appointed him.

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On Wednesday, Putin had proposed Mishustin, a little-known technocrat and chief of the Russian Federal Tax Service, for the position of Russia's PM.

The nomination came hours after the current Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev resigned along with the whole Cabinet following the president's proposals to amend the Constitution.

Mishustin, 53, is a trained engineer who also holds a Ph.D. in economics. He was the head in the 1990s of the board of the International Computer Club (ICC), a public non-profit organization which according to Russia’s news agency TASS, aimed to attract "advanced western information technologies to Russia."

In 1998, he joined the state service, working in several government agencies, before becoming in 2008 the president of the Russian investment company (UFG). 

In 2010, Mishustin was appointed director of the Russian Federal Tax Service. In this position, he declared war on "dirty data" and gained wide recognition as a result of his deep improvement and digitalization of the Tax Service, turning it into a modern and efficient institution. His management led to a drop in tax evasion and brought many small businesses into the formal economy.

Last year, Mishustin said in an interview that Russia needed to adopt artificial intelligence and digital technology, saying "if we don't understand how this world is developing and what its rules are, if we insist our country is part of the old order, this new world will make us its victim."

Over the years, Mishustin “has created a cutting-edge tax service from the ground up, using modern technologies and (means of) digital economy,” said the Speaker of Russia's Duma Vyacheslav Volodin.

Officials in the government and businessmen describe him as a professional and competent administrator who has a very good knowledge of the economy, which makes him a good fit for the Cabinet in a time when Russia's economy is not at its best.

The new premier doesn't belong to a political party and has always stayed away from politics. In his rare interviews, he prefers to talk about innovations in tax administration.

“The main tasks for the new prime minister will come from the necessity to modernize the economy," Abbas Gallyamov, a former Kremlin speechwriter turned independent political analyst, wrote in a Facebook post. "Mishustin has the reputation of a person who has this experience.”

Analyst Gleb Pavlovsky, a former Putin adviser, told media that Mishustin is "a splendid bureaucrat, in the best sense of the word."

But some voices were raised against this appointment. Nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Moscow Center, Tatiana Stanovaya, said on social media that Mishustin was a "technocratic placeholder," saying that he has no political experience or popularity with the people.

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