‘The president likes him — and has for a long time’ Putin is reportedly eyeing Dmitry Rogozin to manage a new federal district comprised of occupied Ukrainian territories
Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin is slated to join the Russian presidential administration (AP) in the near future, Meduza has learned from three sources close to the Kremlin and an acquaintance of Rogozin’s.
Exactly what position Rogozin will take is still under discussion. According to one of Meduza’s sources, Rogozin is currently one of several candidates for chief of staff (the other candidates are unknown).
The AP’s current chief of staff is Anton Vaino, who's held the post since August 2016 — a record-setting tenure. According to a source close to the Kremlin, Vaino may “be transferred to a job in the diplomatic service.” It wouldn’t be Vaino’s first time serving as a diplomat: he worked in the Russian Embassy in Japan from 1996 to 2001, before moving to the Interior Ministry for two years.
Another possibility, according to Meduza’s sources, is that Dmitry Rogozin will become one of the Kremlin’s supervisors for the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics” and the other Russian-occupied territories in Ukraine. In that case, Rogozin would officially be a presidential aide or a deputy chief of staff, and would replace Dmitry Kozak.
As Meduza reported previously, after Russia launched its full-scale war against Ukraine, Kozak, the Kremlin’s former point person on the Donbas, fell out of favor with Vladimir Putin. He was replaced by domestic policy czar Sergey Kiriyenko, who found himself in Putin’s new “inner circle” after February 24. According to Meduza’s sources, Kiriyenko’s subordinates have begun working on referendums that would make the Ukrainian territories part of Russia (at least from the Russian government's perspective).
The first Kiriyenko subordinate to be put in charge of the Donbas territories was Andrey Yarin, head of the Putin administration's domestic policy department, who reportedly has close ties to the FSB. He was succeeded by State Council administration deputy head Boris Rapoport.
“Now, Yarin is closely involved with the Donbas again, while Rapoport has resumed working on election issues in Russia. But in the territories that are slated to join Russia, there’s a lot of work to be done, and after the annexation, the political bloc will be spread quite thin. For that reason, it’s better for there to be a single person in charge of the Donbas,” a source close to the AP told Meduza. Kiriyenko would shift his focus back to domestic policy and keep his Donbas work to a minimum.
According to Meduza’s sources, if the Kremlin opts for that plan, Dmitry Rogozin will first be transferred back to the AP, and then, if the referendums on annexing the Ukrainian territories are held after all, he would become the administration’s envoy to Russia’s new federal district, which would comprise the Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics” as well as the other captured territories. Rogozin would also most likely be given the title of “deputy prime minister.”
“Rogozin is too significant a figure to work directly under to Sergey Kiriyenko. If he’s given deputy prime minister status, he can be more independent,” said a source close to the Kremlin.
All three of Meduza’s sources emphasized that Rogozin is “in favor with the president.” “The president likes him — and has for a long time,” said one. The sources noted that Putin has met publicly with Rogozin twice since the war in Ukraine began. Both times, Putin was remarkably friendly towards Rogozin.
“In his time [in the mid-2000s, then-Emergency Situations Minister Sergey] Shoigu wanted to take over construction of the Vostochny Cosmodrome from Rogozin, but Putin wouldn’t let him,” said a source who knows Rogozin personally, stressing how he’s long been one a Putin favorite.
Among other qualities, Meduza’s sources said, Putin appreciates Rogozin’s “compliance” and conspicuous patriotism; Rogozin regularly makes “patriotic” posts on social media. On June 15, for example, he called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a “clown,” and just days before that, he threatened a missile strike against the “cowardly Bulgarians,” the “vindictive Romanians,” and the “traitorous Montenegrans.” (Bulgaria and several Balkan countries later banned Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s plane from their airspace as a result.)
One source close to the Kremlin told Meduza that Rogozin’s flamboyant threats only improve his position. “He loves shock and scandal. He knows that Putin likes that kind of behavior, and he’s playing into that,” said the source.
Neither Russian Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov nor Roscosmos’s press service responded to Meduza’s questions about Dmitry Rogozin’s possible appointment to the AP.
Abridged translation by Sam Breazeale