Putin Fires Internet Adviser, Retains Other Key Aides In Kremlin Personnel Shuffle

Vladimir Putin has fired his main adviser on Internet issues, the latest in a series of personnel moves that the Russian President has made since being inaugurated for a fourth term.

An order posted on the Kremlin website on June 13 did not specify why German Klimenko was being pushed out.

Klimenko was one of only a few aides not retained by Putin, who was overwhelmingly reelected in a March election that foes said was marred by fraud and which international observers said did not present voters with a genuine choice.

During his 2 ½-year tenure, Klimenko was the point man for the Russian government’s continuing efforts to rein in how Russians use the Internet.

In the early months after being appointed, he floated the idea of blocking major companies like Facebook and Google, and discussed the possibility of banning cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.

He also was involved in the fight against Telegram, the secure messaging app that Russian authorities banned in April, only for this to result in widespread outages for unaffiliated sites.

In March, Klimenko asserted that Russia would be prepared with its own segment of the Internet should Western nations seek to punish it by cutting off all access.

In a post to his Facebook page, Klimenko confirmed that he had been dismissed, and thanked Putin for his time as adviser.

In other personnel moves, Putin opted to retain his chief of staff, Anton Vaino, two deputies — Sergei Kiriyenko and Aleksei Gromov — and top aides including foreign policy adviser Yury Ushakov and Vladislav Surkov.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov will also keep his position.