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Russian President Putin approves new government without major changes

Vladimir Putin on Friday approved a new government with key posts largely unchanged for his fourth Kremlin term.

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Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov keeps his job in the new Russian government play

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov keeps his job in the new Russian government

(AFP/File)

Vladimir Putin on Friday approved a new government with key posts largely unchanged for his fourth Kremlin term.

Veteran foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu both retained their posts in the government.

Putin met Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in the Black Sea resort of Sochi to discuss the candidates in a brief televised meeting.

Finance Minister Anton Siluanov also held onto his post and was promoted to the position of first deputy prime minister, the second most important position in government.

That was the most significant change in the lineup for Putin's fourth Kremlin term, Medvedev told Putin in the meeting.

Putin told Medvedev he agreed to the appointments.

"They are all well known with good experience and have done well in their areas of work," he said.

Internationally respected since his appointment as foreign minister in 2004, Sergei Lavrov has appeared tired in recent years, a particularly turbulent time for Russia's ties with the West.

A tough negotiator, the 68-year-old continues to defend Moscow's position around the world, speaking almost daily on the Ukrainian and Syrian crises.

Defence minister since 2012, Shoigu has been behind the modernisation of the Russian army -- most recently associated with the Russian military campaign in Syria.

Others who kept their posts include Economy Minster Maxim Oreshkin, who was appointed in 2016 after his predecessor was arrested and later convicted of taking a bribe.

Energy Minister Alexander Novak, who has taken part in crucial negotiations with OPEC over cuts to oil production, also retained his post.

Controversial culture minister Vladimir Medinsky, who has made no secret of his conservative views and publicly criticised top arts figures, also stayed on.

Vitaly Mutko, who is at the heart of the institutional doping allegations against Russian athletes, stayed on as a deputy prime minister but lost his sports remit in the new government, where he will be in charge of construction.

Mutko served as sports minister from 2008 until 2016 and then as deputy first minister with responsibility for sports. He was named in an international report into doping practices that saw Russian athletes banned from participating at the Winter Olympics this year under their national flag.

Among those to be demoted were Dmitry Rogozin, a nationalist politician who lost his post as deputy prime minister for space affairs.

Putin was reelected on March 18 and inaugurated as president on May 7. He reappointed Medvedev, his close ally, to carry on as prime minister.

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