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By John Helmer, Moscow

Dmitry Peskov’s (lead image, right) future has still not been decided by President Vladimir Putin (left) after weeks of delay in which every other major figure in the Kremlin administration has been  confirmed either as staying or as departing.  This morning Andrei Tsybulin, currently titled “Chief of the Presidential Press and Information Office”, was asked by telephone if the President has officially appointed Peskov to a post in the new presidential administration — yes or no?  He replied: “We don’t give any comments. Please — wait for the official announcement on our website or in the media.”

A week ago, a Kremlin press office source claimed that Peskov would be visibly in charge at Putin’s Direct Line national television show on June 7. That was yesterday – but Peskov was neither mentioned by Putin, nor picked out by the cameras during the four-hour broadcast.

Tsybulin’s reference this morning to media reports as an alternative to a Kremlin announcement is a hint that Peskov has not been reappointed, and that Putin has not found a replacement for him yet. This is because the Moscow media have reported the fate of everybody on the senior Kremlin staff – except Peskov.  

During his Direct Line broadcast Putin explained the May 7 reappointment of many ministers in the government as an issue of expediency.  “I know perfectly well that if we reshuffled 100% of the Government and appointed totally new people, even if they were perfect administrators and well-trained professionals, they would need at least two years to either formulate existing goals or develop new ones. We would lose at least two years. We do not have these two years. Therefore, I made a decision that the Government should be significantly renewed by bringing in ‘fresh’ people, if you would allow me to use this term, but well-trained and who have proven themselves in major and important spheres.”

Left to right: Vitaly Mutko, Vladimir Putin and FIFA President Gianni Infantino at the Krasnodar Stadium, May 23, 2017.

When asked about the promotion a month ago of former Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko to be deputy prime minister in charge of construction, Putin suggested that Mutko’s involvement in the Olympic doping scandal was the reason he was rising, not falling. “We know how he [Mutko] was attacked over the doping scandal and so on and so forth. In these conditions, it is impossible to send him into retirement; and again, he has good potential. Let him do his job.” 

Left: Alexei Gromov as Putin’s press secretary at the president’s December press conference in 2004. Gromov – like Peskov, a Foreign Ministry diplomat to start with – speaks English, Czech and Slovak.  

Alexei Gromov,  Peskov’s superior on the Kremlin staff list as first deputy chief of staff and Peskov’s predecessor as head of the Presidential Press Office between 1996 and 2008, has been reappointed to his post, according to Moscow media reports.

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