aslund56_DaveTschorn_putinusualsuspects Dave Tschorn

Putin’s Usual Suspects

Following Russia's sudden governmental shakeup last month, outside observers might have concluded that President Vladimir Putin has positioned his country for faster economic growth, in addition to consolidating his own hold on power. In fact, the new government will be no less corrosive to the economy than the one that preceded it.

STOCKHOLM – Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin initiated an overhaul of Russia’s government and constitutional order, indicating that – one way or another – he will remain in power after his term ends in 2024. He has also adjusted his economic policy, on the assumption that more state investment will boost growth. But, here, Putin’s hopes are likely to be dashed.

Traditionally, the Russian prime minister and his first deputy have overseen economic policy. Under the new dispensation, the long-time head of the tax administration, Mikhail Mishustin, has replaced Putin’s hapless understudy, Dmitri Medvedev, as prime minister; Putin’s chief economic aide, Andrei Belousov, has taken over as first deputy; and Anton Siluanov has remained as finance minister. (Putin’s new economic aide is former Economy Minister Maxim Oreshkin, a young technocratic star with views similar to Belousov.)

Having served as Putin’s aide for seven years, Belousov’s thinking has come to mirror that of his master. The son of a prominent Marxist economist, he is an unabashed statist and a self-professed Keynesian, implying that he supports increased state spending. Since being “re-elected” in 2018, Putin and Belousov have focused on 13 national projects designed to improve the standard of living and increase investment in infrastructure.

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