MOSCOW, May 22 (RIA Novosti) – Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said he was not ready to part with any of the current ministers, but dismissals are possible in connection with the recently introduced law banning officials from keeping their money in foreign banks.
“The government is a team. I have proposed their [ministers’] candidacies to the president and the president confirmed all of them. But I am responsible for them,” Medvedev said in an interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda daily.
Asked whether there are currently ministers that he was ready to change, Medvedev said “there are none.”
The Russian government has drawn criticism lately, including from President Vladimir Putin, over its failure to present a program for diversifying the country’s economy away from its dependence on high oil prices, Russia’s key export commodity, and spur its faltering economic growth.
“The government is not safeguarded from anything, neither from claims, nor from criticism. This is absolutely normal,” Medvedev said.
Speaking about Education Minister Dmitry Livanov, who came under stark criticism lately, Medvedev said that “a minister cannot appeal to all and everyone.”
Russian Education Minister Dmitry Livanov
“He has his own vision and I will tell you honestly that he conducts reforms, which are necessary,” the premier said.
Last month the Russian Communist Party urged the government to admit its mistakes in education reform and fire Livanov. Party leader Gennady Zyuganov slammed Livanov’s calls for the number of students receiving state scholarships to be slashed, and his support for a plan to establish federal educational standards for high schools, which the Communist Party says could destroy the general education system in Russia.
Medvedev said, however, that dismissals among state officials, including in the cabinet, were possible due to the recently introduced law banning them from keeping accounts in foreign banks.
“I cannot exclude anything. It will be a definite signal on the effectiveness of the new regulations,” Medvedev said.
“If you live in Russia and govern it, than you must be responsible for its economy by understanding that your money is in full dependence on the way you govern the country,” he said.
The law banning Russian officials from keeping their money in foreign banks was signed by President Putin earlier this month. Officials owing assets abroad were given three months to get rid of them, which can be done by placing them into blind trusts. State servants who fail to comply risk sacking, but no further punishment.
Speaking about recent resignations in the government, particularly of former Deputy Prime Minister Vladislav Surkov, Medvedev said he was satisfied with his deputy’s work, but it was Surkov’s own decision.
“Vladislav Surkov made a decision to leave and wrote a letter of resignation. This must be treated with respect. It was his choice. It is a development, which regularly happens in any government,” Medvedev said adding that Surkov worked hard and well.
Former Deputy Prime Minister Surkov, long known as a powerful Kremlin ideologue, submitted his resignation on May 7 after President Vladimir Putin’s meeting with the Cabinet, at which Putin harshly criticized the ministers.