Mikhail Mishustin never had any political ambitions as a career bureaucrat and his name didn't come up as a top candidate to become Russia's next prime minister.
But the 53-year-old Mishustin, the longtime chief of Russia's tax service, was tapped for the post by President Vladimir Putin. The lower house of Russia's parliament, the Duma, quickly appointed Mishustin as prime minister on Thursday.
Putin put Mishustin's candidacy forward on Wednesday night, several hours after Dmitry Medvedev resigned along with the whole Cabinet. Just before that, Putin proposed sweeping changes to the constitution that could keep him in power well past the end of his term in 2024.
As a career bureaucrat who has been in charge of Russia's taxes for the past 10 years, Mishustin has always kept a low profile and stayed away from politics. He doesn't belong to a political party and in rare interviews prefers to talk about innovations in tax administration.
The move sent shockwaves through Russia's political elite and left them pondering about future Cabinet appointments.
Mishustin has been hailed for modernizing Russia's rigid tax administration system and boosting tax collection rates. Government officials and businessmen describe him as a professional and effective manager who understands the economy well, which makes him a good fit for the Cabinet during a time when Russia's economy is weakened.
In November, he proudly reported that the amount of successfully collected taxes had increased by 1.4 times since 2014. The share of tax revenues in the country's gross domestic product had also grown by 4 percentage points, while value-added tax collection rose by 64%.
Mishustin's track record inspired hopes that as prime minister, he would be able to shake up the country's stagnating economy, something Russians have been increasingly frustrated about in recent years.
Source : VOA