Russia's Putin picks little-known tax chief for prime minister

Mikhail Mishustin speaking to Putin (not pictured) during a meeting in Moscow in November 2019. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MOSCOW (AFP) - President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday (Jan 15) proposed the little-known head of Russia's tax service Mikhail Mishustin for the post of prime minister, the Kremlin said.

The proposal to appoint 53-year-old Mishustin, a relatively obscure figure who has run the service since 2010, came after the surprise resignation of Putin ally Dmitry Medvedev following the president's unveiling of a package of constitutional reforms.

The two met in the Kremlin where Putin "suggested to him that he take the post of the head of government" and he accepted, the Kremlin said in a statement.

According to Russia's constitution, Mishustin should face a vote of approval in the Russian parliament within a week.

Parliament's lower house, the State Duma, will review his candidacy on Thursday, Russian news agencies said.

The overwhelmingly pro-Kremlin body is unlikely to reject Putin's proposal.

Mishustin is a "neutral figure" and does not seem like someone who is being groomed as Putin's successor, political analyst Ekaterina Schulmann told AFP.

He worked in the information technology industry in the 1990s before entering the Federal Tax Service in 1998.

He also ran the UFG investment group from 2008 until his appointment to head the tax service in 2010, according to his official biography.

Mishustin is credited with making the Russian tax service highly efficient and supports electronic government services for the public.

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