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Economist named as new Russian deputy premier in Putin-led reform

Russia announced on Tuesday it had changed its first deputy prime minister after the entire cabinet resigned last week in a reform of the leadership under President Vladimir Putin.

Russia announced on Tuesday it had changed its first deputy prime minister after the entire cabinet resigned last week in a reform of the leadership under President Vladimir Putin.

The new first deputy prime minister is previous Kremlin economic advisor Andrei Belousov, state media reported citing a decree from Putin.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who has held the portfolio for almost 16 years, and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu will continue their roles in the new government.

The new prime minister, Mikhail Mishustin, a career bureaucrat and long-time head of the federal tax service, was appointed last week.

The appointment of two economists as the prime minister and his first deputy is a signal that Putin is looking to turn around Russia‘s long struggling economy.

The previous prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, and his cabinet resigned within hours of Putin announcing proposals for sweeping reforms to the leadership in his annual state of the nation speech.

A Russian parliamentary committee approved a draft of Putin’s proposed amendments to the constitution on Tuesday, only one day after they were submitted.

Putin’s bill has been widely seen as an effort to widen his options for retaining power after his current term ends in four years.

The reforms include giving more power to the prime minister and the State Council, prompting speculation that Putin is preparing to move to one of those roles.

The lower house of parliament is set to conduct its first reading of the bill on Thursday, the legislature said in a statement. There is rarely dissent about Putin’s proposals in parliament.

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