Jane VaynmanPutin Appoints New Defense Minister

Putin has appointed Anatoly Serdyukov, formerly head of the Federal Tax Service, as Russia’s new Defense Minister. Sergei Ivanov will now assume the post of first deputy prime minister.

The same post is also occupied by another very important figure in Russian politics, Dmitry Medvedev. Ivanov and Medvedev are thought to be the top contenders for presidency in 2008. And now they have the same job. What’s going on? Who knows, it’s Russia.

So who is Anatoly Serdyukov? What are his qualifications for defense minister? I am going to guess he is buddies with Putin.

Serdyukov is an economist. He started his career in St. Petersburg and after graduating college in 1984, he was manager of a furniture store. From 1993-2000 he was deputy manager, marketing director, and general director of a very big furniture company in St. Petersburg. Fast forward through high-level St. Pete tax ministry appointments, a fancy new tax system, and by 2004 he is head of the Federal Tax Service. After reorganization in 2005, he had the power to appoint all the top tax officials thoughout the country.

So in summary, the man knows how to collect and enforce those taxes. How a career in tax collection prepares one for military reorganization and foreign policy, I have no idea.

However, it looks like Ivanov will not be giving up his control of significant money channels. AP reports that he will continue to oversee Russia’s arms trade.