MOSCOW Prime Minister Vladimir Putin wasted no time in naming his new Cabinet on Monday, bringing in loyalists from the Kremlin in what was seen as an effort to shift the center of power to his new place of work.
He also left several prominent ministers untouched, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin.
Putin announced the 24 positions, eight of them new, at a Cabinet meeting in the government headquarters, the ministers already seated according to their new appointments.
President Dmitry Medvedev, Putin's hand-picked successor who was inaugurated last week, quickly approved the appointments, which included the demotion of a former rival. Putin named the hawkish Sergei Ivanov, once seen as a top candidate to succeed him as president, as one of his deputy prime ministers, a step down from his previous position as first deputy premier.
Bolstering the economy was one of the priorities listed by Putin when he presented himself as prime minister-designate to the parliament last week.
His move from the Kremlin to the Cabinet residence up the Moscow River allows him to remain a hugely influential figure in the country's politics, and many observers have speculated he will overshadow Medvedev.
"Medvedev has a very narrow set of choices and opportunities," said political analyst Dmitry Oreshkin. "He will accept the conditions Putin imposes on him and will not take steps that would spoil his image as (Putin's) successor."
Putin was shown describing the structure of the new Cabinet in footage that dominated news broadcasts throughout the day. He looked and sounded presidential when he discussed the changes with Medvedev in televised remarks.
"It was enough to see how Putin talked to Medvedev to understand who is the boss," commentator Anton Orekh said on Ekho Moskvy radio. "Putin was the main hero Monday."
Medvedev received significantly less air time Monday.
In another sign of his authority, Putin angrily scolded reporters dictating details of the reshuffle to their offices: "If you continue chatting so loud, we won't invite you any more."
Putin increased the number of prime ministerial deputies to seven, compared to the five for his predecessor, Viktor Zubkov.
Zubkov was named a first deputy prime minister. He was put in charge of agriculture, forestry and the fishing industry, in addition to customs and tariffs.
The other first deputy premier is Igor Shuvalov, a top policy aide in Putin's Kremlin who gained prominence as an important figure when Russia hosted the Group of Eight summit in 2006. Shuvalov will oversee foreign economic policy and negotiate Russia's membership in the World Trade Organization.
Igor Sechin, the former deputy chief of presidential staff, will oversee industrial development programs. Sechin, who is widely seen as a leader of a powerful Kremlin clan of "siloviki," or veterans of Russian security services, will apparently remain chairman of the state-controlled oil company Rosneft.
Oreshkin said most of the promotions were given to colorless officials who are little known by the public. "There was no populism in the new appointments," he said. "The role of public opinion is so low that whomever is appointed will be accepted."
The most striking change was the dismissal of Nikolai Patrushev as head of the KGB successor agency, the Federal Security Service. He was made head of the presidential Security Council and replaced by one of his former deputies, Alexander Bortnikov.
Mikhail Grishankov, a former FSB officer who is now a lawmaker, predicted that Patrushev's appointment will make the Security Council more influential. "Patrushev's appointment will increase this organ's role," Grishankov said, according to RIA Novosti news agency.
But political analyst Andrei Soldatov said Bortnikov's appointment is a Kremlin effort to rein in the security agency, which under Putin had regained much of its former clout.
"Bortnikov is Medvedev's man, and his appointment seems to be an attempt to put the security structures under the thumb of Kremlin insiders with strictly economic interests," Soldatov said.
The corruption-tainted telecommunications minister, Leonid Reiman, was not reappointed.
A Swiss arbitration tribunal ruled in 2006 that Reiman is the true owner of a Bermuda-based fund that at one time controlled much of Russia's telephone industry. Reiman, a longtime associate of Putin, has denied any ownership of the IPOC fund, but the revelations have been seen as evidence of high-level corruption in the Kremlin.