Russian President Vladimir Putin has unveiled his new cabinet, appointing loyalists to key economic posts, which could hamper Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev's plans.
Putin kept in place five of his predecessor's key ministers, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Defense Minister Anatoly Seryukov, and appointed several new members viewed as being trusted allies.
He warned them on Monday that the new government under Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev would face a difficult global economic climate.
"The situation in the global economy is unclear; there are quite a lot of factors that make it opaque," Putin told the new cabinet in televised remarks. "You will have to fulfill a program of Russia's development in these conditions."
Putin also retained Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, who is in charge of overall economic policy, as well Finance Minister Anton Siluanov. With economist Andrei Belousov as the new economy minister, Putin has put three loyalists and believers of state-led economic development in charge of the economy.
Problematic for premier?
Observers say the appointments will limit Medvedev's ability to follow through on a promise he made when he was still president to launch pro-growth policies and a privatization drive. Medvedev and Putin switched jobs after elections in March.
Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev, who had faced massive criticism for rampant police abuse, lost his job, as did Health Minister Tatyana Golikova and Education Minister Anatoly Fursenko.
The new cabinet includes only two women - as the health and social affairs ministers - which Putin said was disappointing.
"Unfortunately, there are not too many women. But they are there," he said.
mz, ncy/tm (Reuters, AFP, AP)