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Kasyanov's exit casts further doubt on reform

Kasyanov: has not seen eye
to eye with his president, Putin,
but he is a key figure in Russia's
reform process

President Vladimir Putin surprised everyone with his appointment of unknown technocrat Mikhail Fradkov to replace sacked prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov. Fradkov is Russia's envoy to the EU, based in Brussels. Before this, he was director of the tax police. In many ways, he is a compromise candidate between the two Kremlin factions of the security services and the liberal reformers. He has served in the Russian security council, giving him links to the former, and also served in Yegor Gaidar's reformist government in the early 1990s, giving him some credibility with the latter group. He is not well-known but regarded as a competent bureaucrat who will, above all, be loyal to Putin.

Kasyanov's days were numbered, according to the consensus. Putin inherited his prime minister from the Yeltsin administration and Kasyanov was dogged with rumours of imminent dismissal more or less from his first day. He was particularly unpopular with the security services, which blamed him among others for enriching the oligarchs at the state's expense in the 1990s.

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