Putin reshuffles top officials, names new space agency head

Vladimir Isachenkov
Associated Press

Moscow – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday reshuffled his top officials, naming a new head of the state space corporation and giving new broad powers to one of his top ministers.

Putin removed Dmitry Rogozin as the head of state-controlled Roscosmos space agency that oversees the country’s space program and includes rocket factories, launch facilities and numerous other assets.

Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov speaks after the signing of an accord with Venezuela, at the Presidential Palace in Caracas, Venezuela, on Feb. 16, 2022.

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He replaced Rogozin with Yuri Borisov, a deputy prime minister who was in charge of weapons industries. Borisov’s duties were handed over to Denis Manturov, the minister of industry and trade who was also given the rank of a deputy prime minister.

Manturov has held the ministerial job since 2012 and reportedly has Putin’s favor, accompanying the Russian president on most foreign and domestic trips.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Russian Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov arrive to attend the opening of the MAKS-2021 International Aviation and Space Salon in Zhukovsky outside Zhukovsky, Russia, Tuesday, July 20, 2021.

The reshuffle follows predictions of Borisov’s removal from the job that he held for four years amid reported flaws and deficiencies in Russian weapons programs highlighted by the military action in Ukraine.

Borisov acknowledged some of the shortcomings in recent comments, saying that the military industries should have been more active in developing and producing drones.

“I think we were late with the deployment of drones,” he said in an interview with state television.

Borisov’s appointment to the important position of Roscosmos chief indicates that he hasn’t completely fallen from grace despite the weapons procurement issues.

There was no immediate word on a new job for Rogozin, who had served as Roscosmos chief since 2018 and became known for his blustery anti-West rhetoric.

President Vladimir Putin, right, listens to Russian Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin as he visits the Energomash, leading Russian rocket engine company in Khimki, outside Moscow, Russia, Friday, April 12, 2019.

In the early 2000s, Rogozin led a nationalist party, winning notoriety for his anti-migrant stance, and later served as Moscow’s envoy to NATO. In 2011, he was named a deputy prime minister in charge of weapons industries and space, the job he held before Putin named him Roscosmos chief.

Some Russian media speculated that Rogozin still retains Putin’s favor and could be given a new senior job to oversee Moscow-controlled territories in eastern and southern Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the state Tass news agency that there were no complaints about Rogozin’s performance as the Roscosmos head, adding without elaboration that Rogozin will receive a new position.