Putin retains Zhukov, Lavrov and Serdyukov in Cabinet reshuffle

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Moscow, Sep 25 (UNI) President Vladimir Putin has retained Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov in his new Cabinet, Russian news agencies reported.

Serdyukov had tendered his resignation because of his close family ties with new Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov, but his decision was overruled by President Putin and retained after the reshuffle.

First Deputy Prime Ministers Dmitry Medvedev and Sergei Ivanov have also been retained in the new Cabinet and both are front runners in the presidential polls slated to be held in March in next year.

Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin has been promoted to the post of Deputy Prime Minister while Trade Minister German Gref has been axed and replaced by Ms Elvira Nabiullina.

Regional Development Minister Vladimir Yakolev has also been axed and replaced by close Putin confidante Dmitry Kozak, a former special representative of the President in the Southern Federal District.

Former Deputy Finance Minister Tatyana Golikova, wife of retained Industry and Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko, has been appointed Health and Social Development Minister replacing Mikhail Zurabov.

''My new cabinet colleagues are top class specialists who have achieved serious and noticeable results in their jobs,'' said Putin.

The Cabinet will act decisively to fulfil the tasks we have formulated together as strategic objectives for the development of the country, added President Putin whose term ends in 2008.

UNI

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