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Agriculture Ministry Changes in Putin's Government

RUSSIA - The agricultural and food portfolio in Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's new Russian government is held by one of two first deputy prime ministers, Viktor Zubkov, who is the immediate past Prime Minister.

The Ministry of Agriculture has been given broader authorities, including the ability to override decisions of the veterinary and plant quarantine service, acquisition of the forestry agency and reacquisition of fisheries; broader responsibility for agricultural land issues; and authority to draft trade-related decrees.

Minister of Agriculture Aleksey Gordeyev was reappointed to the post he has held since 1999.

The internal structure of the Ministry of Agriculture will be subject to modification through subsequent decrees of the new Prime Minister, which will likely be forthcoming in approximately a month.

The Ministry of Agriculture has absorbed a newly formed Agency for Fisheries, created out of the State Fisheries Committee and the Agency for Forestry, transferred from the Ministry of Natural Resources.

The Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (VPSS, also known by its Russian abbreviation Rosselkhoznadzor) remains under the Ministry of Agriculture.

Former Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov was named as one of two first deputy prime ministers, and specifically with responsibility for agriculture, agribusiness, and affiliated industries.

In his first address to the new cabinet on 12 May, Prime Minister Putin charged Zubkov with implementation of the national projects for agriculture, development and implementation of government fisheries policy and development of the forestry and agroindustrial complex.

Ellen Hardy

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