Ministry of Construction and Housing and Utilities
Dmitry Medvedev’s Government got a new ministry last week. The former Federal Agency for Construction and Housing and Utilities was elevated to the Ministry of Construction and Housing and Utilities by President Vladimir Putin.
Utilities and housing have been a problem in Russia throughout Putin’s rule, and something that people feel strongly about since it effects their daily lives and routines. A rate freeze on domestic utilities has been proposed for next year due to concerns about inflation [http://www.themoscowtimes.com/business/article/sechin-backs-tariff-freeze-and-boasts-40-increase-in-capitalization/486573.html]. By elevating construction, housing and utilities to a ministerial position, Putin seems to be indicating that he understands that this subject is important. This was emphasized during his first meeting with the new Minister, Mikhail Men [http://www.kremlin.ru/news/19529].
So Putin has just placed the problem of construction, housing, utilities directly in Prime Minister Medvedev’s lap. So when the newly formed ministry fails to enact real reform (and it will fail), the blame will fall on Medvedev and his government.
Newly appointed Minister Mikhail Men’s career is filled with holes, but his main claim to fame seems to be his father, the famous Soviet priest Alexander Men, who was assassinated in 1990 [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Men]. Mikhail Men was a deputy mayor in Moscow, and then Governor of the Ivanovno region (I am still trying to track down dates on those). In addition to his political activity, Men [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Men_Project] is also a professional musician who released a hard-rock album in 2004. Like Dmitry Medvedev, he is also a fan of Deep Purple. So the Putin team’s bench is a little longer than we thought, but if all they’re looking for is someone to play seat warmer, they could pick any fan of Deep Purple on the streets of Moscow or any city in Russia.