MOSCOW, MARCH 23, RIA NOVOSTI - A landslide victory in the March 14 poll brought incumbent Vladimir Putin more than 70 per cent of the nation's votes. He started his second presidential term with top echelon reshuffles. That is a prelude to a reform breakthrough, forecast Russia's leading political analysts.

"Mr. Putin's programme for his second term implies a spurt to update Russia," Vyacheslav Nikonov, Unity for Russia foundation president, said to a roundtable today. All Western capital investors he has recently met are describing foremost Cabinet members Mikhail Fradkov, Alexander Zhukov, Alexei Kudrin and German Gref as a dream team, or nearly so, he remarked.

A majority of experts, Russian and Western alike, attach tremendous importance to the latest appointments in the Cabinet of the technocratic Premier Fradkov, as reformers are increasing or at least retaining prominence in the new government, Mr. Nikonov went on.

New government arrangements repeat Western patterns, so he described the structural change as "officialdom Westernised".

The Western stock market supports the reforms even now that they are merely budding. President Putin firmly promised Russia stability as soon as it gets through a fiscal reform and with prospects of its international ratings rising. The market promptly responded, last week, with Russian bonds up, added the expert.

Political analysts expect, with a good deal of certainty, that the Kremlin staff is in for reorganisation next after the government. The staff will have quite an European look, they forecast.

"The Kremlin staff will soon be something like the presidential chancellery in France, what with the personnel and its duties reduced. I know that for sure," said Igor Bunin, Centre of Political Technologies president.

New Kremlin staff arrangements will become public quite soon, within the next two weeks, expects Gleb Pavlovsky, Effective Politics foundation president.

"The Kremlin staff used to be a governing centre on a par with the Cabinet. Now, it will develop into a strategic planning centre-to make the President, de facto, head of government," forecasts Sergei Kolmakov, head of the Institute of Parliamentarianism.

The appearance of Russia's new government comes as a reassuring promise of the President determined to carry on market reforms, considers the Fitch Ratings agency.

The nation must make a breakthrough if it wants the reforms to be a success-there is poverty to fight and close dependence on raw material exports to overcome. Meanwhile, the drive to Westernise administration will clash with those formidable problems of the current transition period, point out Russian experts.

Putin's reforms will orient on the Russian middle class. Gleb Pavlovsky is sure of that.

The reforms that concern all to involve education, housing and other municipal affairs, and health services will not imply shock therapy, expect analysts.

"Dirigible normalisation, that's the definition I propose for crucial aspects of reforms underway. As for politics, I should like to refer to 'dirigible democratisation'-not democracy but democratisation, mind you. That is specially true of the provincial level," said Pavlovsky. He expects all reforms President Putin has announced to bring their first practical fruit by summer 2006.

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