President Vladimir Putin has accepted the resignation of his long-time
ally and former chief ideologue Vladislav Surkov from his posts as Deputy Prime
Minister and government chief of staff, the Kremlin’s press service said in a
brief statement Wednesday afternoon.
The statement said that Surkov had left at his own request, without
giving further details. Surkov, 48, had served as deputy head of the
Presidential Executive Office from August 1999 through December 2011, when he
was appointed Deputy Prime Minister.
Surkov’s resignation came a day
after Putin gave Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s Cabinet a scathing
dressing-down for falling behind with implementing a set of his keynote decrees
signed shortly after he took office as president on May 7 last year.
Commenting on Putin’s criticisms, Surkov said the Cabinet has been
working “quite flawlessly,” admitting however that progress on 50 out of 151
executive orders to be implemented by the end of this year had been
Surkov told the Kommersant daily he had handed
in his resignation on April 26, declining to comment on the reasons. “I’ll tell
that later, when it’s appropriate,” Surkov was quoted as saying.
Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told RIA Novosti news agency that
Surkov’s dismissal had to do with the implementation of the decrees discussed
Tuesday at the Cabinet meeting.
Commenting on his plans in an interview with
the Russky Pioner magazine, Surkov said that he is working on “a political
comedy based on real events.”
Surkov has recently found himself in the middle of a brewing scandal
that has cast a shadow over a major modernization project initiated by
Medvedev, the Skolkovo research hub near Moscow.
On April 19, the Investigative Committee announced it was starting a probe into
alleged misappropriation of state budget funds at Skolkovo.
Surkov publicly defended the Skolkovo project as “one of the most
transparent ones” as he spoke at London School of Economics last Wednesday.
Surkov came under fire earlier this week as the spokesman for Russia’s
Investigative Committee, Vladimir Markin, lashed out at him in an Op-Ed article
in the Izvestia daily for his remarks, alluding that Surkov was trying to
sabotage the investigation by presenting it as unjustified persecution in front
of his “target audience” in London.
Vladislav Surkov has been relieved of his duties as deputy prime minister
Vice Premier Surkov placed in charge of relations with religious organizations
Surkov wants Russia, U.S. to jointly support cooperative projects
Surkov stated he does not comment on
“graphomania,” the compulsive urge to write.
Surkov is known as one of the main people behind the idea of Russia’s
“sovereign democracy.” In July 2011, he stated that Vladimir Putin was sent to Russia by God
when the country was going through hard times.
However, relations between Putin and Surkov have been cooling off
somewhat in recent years, and at the end of 2011 he was replaced with a zealous
United Russia official, Vyacheslav Volodin, as deputy head of the Kremlin’s
Executive Office in charge of ideology.
was a political heavyweight, adding up to the political weight of the
Cabinet as a whole,” an expert with the Center for Political Trends,
Alexey Zudin, told RIA Novosti news agency. “The resignation of a figure
like that is weakening the government politically.”
Deputy head of United Russia’s General Council Andrey Isaev called Surkov’s resignation “a lesson to everyone.”
Medvedev’s Cabinet, Surkov was charged with very specific
responsibilities that he clearly wasn’t enthusiastic about, and he had
arranged, provoked his own dismissal,” the head of the Center of
Political Information Alexey Mukhin told Vesti FM radio.
Deputy Prime Minister, Surkov supervised the implementation of the
government’s decisions, innovative projects, culture, mass media and
the past decade, Vladislav Yuryevich [Surkov] got used to working in a
comfortable environment, protected by the top bosses from external
threats, moreover, he created threats for others, but it came to an end
and I guess he just blew his lid,” Alexey Venediktov, the
editor-in-chief of Ekho Moskvy radio, wrote in his blog.