When Vladimir Putin picked Mikhail Mishustin to succeed Dmitry Medvedev the reaction in liberal circles and in the West was cynical. Mishustin was cut from the same cloth as other Putin appointees namely he would not steal the president's thunder and emerge as a possible rival.
Stanislav Belkovsky the founder and director of the National Strategy Institute exemplified reaction : "The candidacy of the head of the Federal Taxation Service Mikhail Mishustin to the post of Russian Federation Prime Minister appears absolutely logical and fits the personnel philosophy of Vladimir Putin that we have encountered for many years already.
"The demands for the candidacy of premiership are totally obvious, they were formed during the twenty years of Putin. The first: The premier should not be a political figure, breathing down the president's neck. Mishustin answers these criteria. Secondly: the premier should not be a star, a premium level star provoking the admiration of progressive society. And here Mishustin is absolutely suitable.
"In other words Mikhai Mishustin – is fully analogous, the fully functional political analogue of [former Russian premiers] Mikhail Fradkov the 2004 model and Viktor Zubkov from 2007 despit all the differences between these administrators. What they had in common from Vladimir Putin's perspective is much larger than what is different when you look at it."
As opposed to such cynicism, Mk.ru's "observer" Mikhail Rostovsky praised the new prime in an article titled "New Prime Minister Mishustin is the exact opposite of Medvedev", as a magician and wizard who had made order out of chaos in his previous postings. He described Mishustin as man who "knows how to create complex systems and ensure their smooth operation". For Rostovsky, Mishustin is clearly the man, who will "manage to lead the Russian economy from its current non-crisis, but still not quite healthy state."
Rostovsky's article follows below.
Mikhail Rostovsky (Source. Mk.ru)
"A person of many, but usually not overly informative words, will be replaced in the post of Russia's Prime Minister’s by a real man of action. The name of the chief tax specialist of Russia Mikhail Mishustin, who will become the head of our government instead of Dmitry Medvedev, so far means little to most citizens of the Russian Federation. But there are colorful legends about Mishustin that go around in the capital's economic and political circles. The next prime minister of the Russian Federation is considered almost a magician and wizard - an official who achieves vivid and spectacular success in every task that he would undertake. Mikhail Mishustin is a brilliant crisis manager, who is periodically transferred from one problem area to another.
"Before Mishustin became the head of the Federal Real Estate Cadastre Agency in 2004, this agency was considered a real 'black hole'. The future Prime Minister of the Russian Federation turned it into an exemplary government agency. About the same thing happened later with the Federal Agency for the Management of Special Economic Zones and with the Federal Tax Service. To the chagrin of those who do not particularly like to give their debts to the state, Mishustin made our tax collectors one of the most effective in the world. Now, , apparently, they expect of the 53-year-old Mikhail Vladimirovich Mishustin a repetition of such miracles on the scale of the entire Russian government. Whether the new prime minister will succeed is a question which only the future can provide an answer to. But if someone has a chance to “create economic magic”, then this is Mishustin’s. From my point of view, in appointing the new prime minister, Putin made the optimal choice of all potential [candidates].
"So, let's get acquainted with the future new head of the Russian government. These are the informal details of his biography that I managed to find out. Mikhail Mishustin was born in 1966 in Lobnya in a simple family. His father worked at Sheremetyevo Airport, and his mother worked at a medical facility. The future prime minister entered the evening classes of the Moscow State Technological University (Stankin) and while working at the reserve-officer training department . But he didn't last long at the evening classes. Having won first place in the intra-institute Olympiad, he was triumphantly transferred to full-time education. People say that some training manuals that Mishustin wrote when he was a student are still being used in Stankin.
"After graduating from the institute in 1989, Mishustin soon left headlong into private business. The future Prime Minister of the Russian Federation created the Moscow International Computer Club, which, as its name implies, successfully supplied the emerging market sector of our economy with computer technology. During this time, Mishustin's working style became clearly visible - a style that consists of three components: [well] conceived - thought through to the smallest detail - implemented in exact accordance with plans.
"On the website of the International Computer Club you can find, for example, the following story by Mikhail Mishustin about how he, together with the future noted businessman Levon Amdilyan, created the International Computer Forum (ICF) - a platform for transferring experience from Western programmers to Russians: 'We (me and Levon) were driving his daughter to a kindergarten. It was raining heavily, raindrops were beating on the windshield. Then Levon spoke for the first time about the ICF. He had returned from an international computer conference at which many representatives of leading computer market companies expressed a desire to come to the USSR and speak, provided that someone would undertake the organization of such an international event. 'Well,' Levon asked, 'shall we do it?' Within two hours, we discussed and developed the concept of the Forum and set a date: June 17, 1990. Now I can hardly believe that this was possible.”.
"Back in 1998, the new head of our tax service, Boris Fedorov, hardly believed that amidst the galloping acute economic crisis (the notorious August default was ahead) he could collect at least some taxes. Being a very brave and extravagant person and a fan of unusual solutions, Fedorov decided to strengthen his team with Mikhail Mishustin, a man from the private business sphere. The Russian state apparatus in those years very often rejected 'people from business' who were being implanted there (lets recall, for example, that the government careers of Deputy Minister of Fuel and Energy Mikhail Khodorkovsky and First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Potanin were very short). Mikhail Mishustin was an exception to this rule. Having achieved success in the market sector, he felt quite comfortable in the public service.
"Such people among our economic managers are not only rare but very rare. It is not surprising that when in 2008 Mikhail Mishustin tried to return to business, he was quickly called back again as “assistant to the rower to the galleys” - to the position of head of our tax service, which he held until now. What were Mishustin's qualities that ensured his success? Being a brilliant mathematician, Mishustin knows how to create complex systems and ensure their smooth operation.
"All Mishustin’s friends note his sense of humor and the presence of a huge number of 'unofficial' talents in most diverse fields. Our future prime minister writes poems and lyrics for a variety of famous Russian artists. Not knowing the notes, Mishustin plays the piano beautifully. Not being a professional athlete, he plays hockey at a very decent level. But when Mikhail Mishustin is immersed in the process of work, he thinks only of work. Conversations about everything and simultaneously about nothing that were intrinsic to Medvedev - this does not apply to his successor at the prime minister’s office."
Minshushtin on ice (Source: Tj.sputniknews.ru)
"Mikhail Mishustin is a very friendly person who is passionately devoted to his friends (I only ask that this point be considered as an indication of of our next prime minister's worthy human qualities, and not as some kind of poisonous hint). But at the same time, Mishustin pathologically does not tolerate slackness and betrayal and knows how to be very tough. I can’t even believe that instead of Dmitry Medvedev we will have a person with such a combination of qualities as prime minister. But Russia does not have time for tender emotions with regard to the next master of our White House. The Russian economy is hungry for a strong guiding hand (and again, I ask you not to take this as a hint at Mishustin’s tendency to unnecessary government interference in the economy - he doesn’t have such a tendency). However, having heard the name of our future head of government on the Tuesday evening of January 15, I rejoiced whole heartedly.
"Despite the politicization of the government resulting from the constitutional reforms announced by Putin, Mikhail Mishustin will certainly not be the political prime minister or, I dare to make such a forecast, a candidate for the next president. Mishustin is a techie, a high-class manager, a specialist in creating economic systems that are sustainable and with a capacity for development. 'I have long considered Mikhail Vladimirovich to be the best candidate for prime minister, but I did not dare hope that this would be possible," Nikolay Krotov (chronicler of modern economic history of Russia, who knows Mishustin well), told me. I fully concur with the respected Nikolai Ivanovich's opinion. I believe and hope that Mikhail Mishustin will manage lead to Russian economy out of its current non-crisis, but still not quite healthy state."