Mikhail Mishustin: Russia's Economist Turned Prime Minister

Mikhail Vladimirovich Mishustin, born on March 3, 1966, is a Russian politician and economist who assumed office as the Prime Minister of Russia on January 16, 2020. Prior to this role, he served as the head of the Federal Tax Service of Russia from 2010 to 2020.

Early Life and Education

Mikhail Mishustin was born in Lubnaya, Russia, to Vladimir and Lyudmila Mishustin. His father, Vladimir, worked for the airline company Aeroflot, and his mother was a nurse. In 1989, Mishustin completed his studies in Systems Engineering at the Stankin Moscow State Technological University. He pursued further education, earning a master's degree from the same institution in 1992.

After completing his studies, Mishustin began his career as a manager of testing laboratories and later became the head of the International Computer Club (ICC), a non-profit organization owned by oligarch Alexander Udodov.

In 1998, he joined the public service as an information systems specialist in charge of tax accounting and control at the Federal Tax Service of the Russian Federation. He later became the Deputy Minister of Taxes and Levies and headed the Federal Agency for State Property Management in the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia. Additionally, he led the Federal Agency for Special Economic Zones.

In 2008, Mishustin left the public sector and returned to the business world, this time in the field of investments. He served as the president of OFG Invest for a year, a company co-founded by former Russian Finance Minister Boris Fyodorov.

In February 2009, he returned to the public service when he was appointed to the Federal Human Resources Pool, a government body established by Dmitry Medvedev, then the President of Russia, to provide high-quality personnel to the federal government.

Head of the Federal Tax Service

In 2010, Mikhail Mishustin was appointed as the head of the Federal Tax Service of Russia. In this role, he declared a "war on dirty data," focusing on resolving fundamental issues related to unjustified VAT refunds and combatting tax evasion.

During his tenure, Mishustin transformed the approach to tax compliance, emphasizing analytical work over traditional tax audits. This led to a significant reduction in the number of tax audits conducted on large and medium-sized businesses while improving efficiency. However, his strict approach faced criticism from Russian business owners who believed it was too stringent.

Mishustin also advocated for simplifying interactions between businesses, individuals, and tax authorities by introducing electronic services within the Federal Tax Service.

Under Mishustin's leadership, the Federal Tax Service embraced digitalization of data and introduced new regulations to improve taxpayer services. Notably, they extended the opening hours of service centers and conducted VAT checks on businesses. In 2015, the Federal Tax Service launched a federal contact center to provide assistance to taxpayers.

Prime Minister of Russia

On January 15, 2020, President Vladimir Putin appointed Mikhail Mishustin as the Prime Minister of Russia following the resignation of Dmitry Medvedev. His appointment was confirmed by the State Duma the next day.

In addition to his role as Prime Minister, Mishustin is a member of Russia's Security Council and serves as the head of the Government of the Union State of Russia and Belarus. He also chairs the Supervisory Board of VEF.RF Bank and is a member of the Directorate of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation.

On January 21, 2020, Mishustin presented his government lineup, which included 21 ministers and 9 deputy ministers. This new government was leaner compared to the previous one, with only 12 ministers and four deputy ministers retained from the previous cabinet.

In March 2020, Mishustin instructed the establishment of a federal body known as the Government Executive Office to handle operational matters. This body was not present in Dmitry Medvedev's second government but existed in his first term.

Handling the COVID-19 Pandemic

Shortly after taking office, Mishustin had to allocate resources to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. He implemented measures to control the virus's spread, including closing Russia's borders with China. His government prioritized providing comprehensive information on the virus's outbreak in Russia to combat misinformation.

The Russian government, under Mishustin's leadership, swiftly initiated responses to the pandemic before it was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. Mishustin himself tested positive for COVID-19 on April 30, 2020, and entered isolation. During his absence, First Deputy Prime Minister Andrey Belousov took over the role of acting Prime Minister for 20 days.

In November 2020, Mishustin initiated the creation of the Federal Center for Medicines, a federal government agency responsible for planning and organizing the distribution of medicines to citizens.

This move was made in preparation for mass vaccination campaigns, starting with the Gam-COVID-Vac vaccine in January 2021. The agency also focused on the procurement of medicines through federal programs, particularly for treating orphan diseases, oncology, HIV, and hepatitis, as well as vaccines included in the national vaccination schedule. The agency also monitored medicine supplies in different regions of the country to prevent disruptions.

In February 2021, the government proposed legislation to allow the use of narcotic and psychotropic substances for medical purposes to alleviate pain, reflecting Mishustin's commitment to improving healthcare in Russia.

Mikhail Mishustin's journey from the world of business to the highest echelons of Russian politics has been marked by his focus on modernization, digitalization, and effective governance. As Russia's Prime Minister, he faces the ongoing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to shape the country's economic and healthcare policies.

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