Sergey Vladilenovich Kiriyenko ( Izraitel; Russian: Серге́й Владиле́нович Кирие́нко; born 26 July 1962) is a Russian politician who has served as First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Administration of Russia since 5 October 2016. He previously served as the 30th Prime Minister of Russia from 23 March to 23 August 1998 under President Boris Yeltsin, and was head of the Rosatom nuclear energy company between 2005 and 2016. Kiriyenko was the youngest Prime Minister of Russia, taking the position at age 35. Ideologically a technocrat, he has played a leading role in the governance of Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Sergey Kiriyenko
Сергей Кириенко
Kiriyenko in 2020
First Deputy Chief of Staff of the
Presidential Administration of Russia
Assumed office
5 October 2016
PresidentVladimir Putin
Preceded byVyacheslav Volodin
Presidential Envoy to the Volga Federal District
In office
18 May 2000 – 14 November 2005
PresidentVladimir Putin
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byAleksandr Konovalov
Prime Minister of Russia
In office
23 March 1998 – 23 August 1998
PresidentBoris Yeltsin
Preceded byViktor Chernomyrdin
Succeeded byViktor Chernomyrdin (Acting)
Yevgeny Primakov
First Deputy Prime Minister
In office
23 March 1998 – 24 April 1998
Prime MinisterHimself (Acting)
Preceded byBoris Nemtsov
Succeeded byYuri Maslyukov
Minister of Fuel and Energy
In office
20 November 1997 – 23 March 1998
Prime MinisterViktor Chernomyrdin
Preceded byBoris Nemtsov
Succeeded byViktor Ott (Acting)
Sergey Generalov
Personal details
Sergey Vladilenovich Izraitel

(1962-07-26) 26 July 1962 (age 61)
Sukhumi, Abkhaz ASSR, Georgian SSR, Soviet Union
Political partyCommunist Party of the Soviet Union (1980–1991)
Union of Right Forces (1998–2008)
Independent (1991–1998 and since 2008)
SpouseMaria V. Kiriyenko
Children3; including Vladimir

Early life


Sergei Kiriyenko's father, Vladilen Israitel, made his name as a doctor of philosophy.[1] Sergei Kiriyenko, son of a Jewish father,[2] was born in Sukhumi, the capital of the Abkhaz ASSR, and grew up in Sochi, in southern Russia. He adopted the Ukrainian surname of his mother.[2] After graduation from high school, Kiriyenko enrolled in the shipbuilding faculty at the Nizhny Novgorod (Gorky) Water Transport Engineers Institute, where his divorced father taught.[citation needed]

Prime Minister of Russia (1998)


Kiriyenko was appointed Prime Minister after the dismissal of Viktor Chernomyrdin's Second Cabinet. The State Duma, dominated by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, twice refused to confirm his appointment but President Yeltsin nominated him a third time and Kiriyenko was confirmed.[3]

Russians would popularly call the nomination of Kiriyenko "Kinder Surprise", a reference to both the unexpectedness of such an appointment and his youth at the time of his appointment. His appointment was assisted by Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, who later became a leading critic of and activist against Vladimir Putin's government.[4] Along with Nemtsov and Anatoly Chubais, Kiriyenko was known during the late 1990s as part of a group of "young reformers", who sought wide-reaching overhauls to the economic system. This was in contrast with his immediate predecessor, the more moderate Viktor Chernomyrdin.[3] Kiriyenko's premiership was noted in hindsight for the appointment of Vladimir Putin as Director of the Federal Security Service, eventually leading to his accession to the presidency in 2000.[5]

Kiriyenko's cabinet defaulted the GKO-OFZ government bond coupons which led to devaluation of the Russian ruble and 1998 Russian financial crisis.[6] Kiriyenko took responsibility for the crisis and resigned on 23 August.[7]

Libel lawsuit


In 2004, Novaya Gazeta printed seven articles by columnist Georgy Rozhnov, which accused Kiriyenko of embezzling US$4.8 billion of IMF funds in 1998 when he was Prime Minister of Russia.[8] The newspaper based the accusations on a letter allegedly written to Colin Powell and signed by US Congressmen Philip Crane, Mike Pence, Charlie Norwood, Dan Burton and Henry Bonilla and posted on the website of the American Defense Council.[9] The newspaper went on to claim that Kiriyenko had used some of the embezzled funds to purchase real estate in the United States. The Moscow newspaper, The eXile, announced it had sent the letter as a prank, but later claimed that this had been a joke.[9][10] In response, Kiriyenko sued Novaya Gazeta and Rozhnov for libel,[10] and in passing judgement in favour of Kiriyenko the court ordered Novaya Gazeta to retract all publications relating to the accusations. The court noted "Novaya gazeta’s content on the missing IMF funds include a great deal of unproven information" and also went on to order the newspaper "to publish only officially proven information linking Mr Kiriyenko with embezzlement."[8][clarification needed]

Union of Right Forces (1999)

Sergey Kiriyenko (left) and Russian President Vladimir Putin, 2000

Together with Boris Nemtsov and Irina Hakamada and along with others, Kiriyenko formed the Union of Right Forces. Kiriyenko led the party in the 1999 legislative election. The party finished fourth in the election, receiving 29 seats. Kiriyenko headed the parliamentary group of the party.[6]

Since 2000 Kiriyenko has held the federal state civilian service rank of 1st class Active State Councillor of the Russian Federation.[11]

Rosatom (2005–2016)

Kiriyenko, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, 2010

Kiriyenko was appointed to head Rosatom, the Federal Atomic Energy Agency, on 30 November 2005 by Mikhail Fradkov's Second Cabinet during the second term of President Vladimir Putin.[12] He was also appointed by the same administration to chair the board of directors of the vertically integrated Atomenergoprom nuclear company in July 2007.[13]

Kiriyenko said on 18 September 2006 while in Vienna, that the reactor in the Bushehr nuclear plant in Iran should be operational by September 2007 and the plant itself will be active in November 2007. He advocated President Vladimir Putin's idea of creating an international system of uranium enrichment centers. A uranium enrichment center could be operational in Russia in 2007.[14] Responding to a reporter's question, Kiriyenko said that the Bushehr power plant would not affect nuclear non-proliferation and that there was nothing preventing Iran-Russia energy cooperation. The Government of Russia planned to deliver nuclear fuel to the plant in March 2007.[15] After a delay of some three years, Kiriyenko said 21 August 2010's arrival of nuclear fuel at Iran's Bushehr I marks "an event of crucial importance" that proves that "Russia always fulfills its international obligations." Spent nuclear fuel from the plant will be sent back to Russia.[16]

Meeting on developing new types of weapons, 2016

Kiriyenko was replaced as General Director of Rosatom on 5 October 2016 by Alexey Likhachev, former Deputy Minister for Economic Development.[17]

It came to light in July 2018 that for his work in Rosatom Kiriyenko was awarded by a confidential decree a Hero of Russia honorary title.[18]

First deputy chief of staff to President Putin


In October 2016 Kiriyenko was appointed First Deputy Chief of Staff in Putin's administration.[19] The position has significant status within the Russian government, with The Moscow Times referring to Kiriyenko as "Putin's right-hand man" and a "gray cardinal" following the appointment.[20]

Kiriyenko spoke publicly about the need to work with Russian youth and their fondness for debauched hip-hop, most notably in response to the crackdown in late 2018.[21][22]

Vadim Prokhorov, one of his former colleagues, described him as "a very flexible man [ideologically], who will never go against the wind."[5]

Administrator of occupied Ukraine


Following the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Kiriyenko's portfolio as First Deputy Chief of Staff was expanded to cover administration of Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine. By June 2022 it was reported by Meduza[23] and Bloomberg News[24] that Kiriyenko had been entrusted with managing the occupied territories, a role that earned him the popular nickname "Viceroy of the Donbas". Kiriyenko has continued to influence Russian domestic policy since the invasion, including allegedly preventing the cancellation of the 2022 Russian gubernatorial elections.[23]

On 5 May 2022 it was reported that Kiriyenko visited the Russian-occupied city of Mariupol, taking part in the unveiling of a statue of an old woman holding the Soviet flag.[25] Kiriyenko said that "Babushka Anya is a symbol of the motherland for the entire" Russian world.[26]

On 6 June Kiriyenko visited occupied Kherson,[27] and it was reported by the Ukrainian mayor of Kherson, Ihor Kolykhaiev, that the occupiers had conducted a meeting of more than 70 Russian sympathisers aimed at conducting a referendum on the region integrating the occupied areas into Russia. Kolykhaiev's sources told him that the dates discussed were two: in September or at the end of 2022.[28] A Russian election happens on 11 September and the Kherson vote would be scheduled to coincide that day.[27] An elected official in Russia named Igor Kastyukevich had discussed this plan on 7 June, following the visit of Kiriyenko. By June, Russian occupational forces in Kherson had begun adjusting local curriculum to match Russia's, and Russian SIM cards were on the market. Kolykhaiev also witnessed Russian forces distributing Russian passports to Kherson residents. A café frequented by Russian soldiers was bombed on 7 June and at least four people were injured.[28]

In late 2022, Russian opposition politician Nikita Yuferev accused Kiriyenko of violating Russia's 2022 war censorship laws.[29]



While Kiriyenko was in office, he was sanctioned by both the United Kingdom and European Union (amongst the list of six individuals and one organization) on 15 October 2020 over the Alexei Navalny poisoning. Navalny, an opponent of Putin's, was poisoned on 20 August 2020, while travelling on a flight inside Russia.[30]

On 21 February 2022, after Putin officially recognized the Luhansk People's Republic and Donetsk People's Republic as independent from Ukraine, other countries began to sanction Russian individuals and companies. On 22 February 2022, US President Joe Biden imposed sanctions on Kiriyenko, along with his son Vladimir for their connections to the Russian government.[31]



Kiriyenko's son Vladimir was appointed CEO of VKontakte in December 2021, the influential Russian social network after the controversial takeover of VKontakte by companies affiliated with state-owned gas giant Gazprom, in what critics said was a sign of the Kremlin tightening its grip over the social media network. Critics have accused the company of sharing user's data with Russia's security services.[citation needed]

See also



  1. ^ Сергей Кириенко (часть первая) Archived 2003-11-25 at the Wayback Machine // Сергей Кириенко (часть первая).
    • "Израитель, Владилен Яковлевич". Большая русская биографическая энциклопедия (электронное издание) (Версия 3.0 ed.). М.: Бизнессофт, ИДДК. 2007. // Большая биографическая энциклопедия. 2009.
  2. ^ a b "Oil and banking fuel the rise of Russian risk-taker". The Irish Times. 18 April 1998.
  3. ^ a b Haslett, Malcolm (28 May 1998). "Kiriyenko - the young reformer". BBC News. Retrieved 12 January 2024.
  4. ^ "Sergey Kiriyenko, the 'Viceroy of the Donbas' who helped launch Putin's career". France 24. 2 October 2022. Retrieved 12 January 2024.
  5. ^ a b "Sergey Kiriyenko, the 'Viceroy of the Donbas' who helped launch Putin's career". France 24. 2 October 2022.
  6. ^ a b "Кремль, тюрьма или пуля: что стало с соратниками Белых по СПС" [Kremlin, prison, or bullet: what became of Belykh's allies in the SPS]. BBC News. 2 February 2018. Retrieved 12 January 2024.
  7. ^ Blant, Maksim (17 August 2023). "Дефолт 1998 года. Первый экономический кризис в постсоветской истории" [The 1998 default: the first economic crisis in post-Soviet history]. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (in Russian). Retrieved 12 January 2024.
  8. ^ a b "III. Lawsuits against Journalists". Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations. 11–17 October 2004. Retrieved 31 January 2009.
  9. ^ a b Ames, Mark (22 July 2004). "Double Punk'd! Meta-Prank Goes Mega-Bad". The eXile. Archived from the original on 26 February 2008. Retrieved 31 January 2009.
  10. ^ a b "Новая газета" опровергла обвинения в адрес Кириенко. (in Russian). 20 December 2004. Archived from the original on 11 March 2007. Retrieved 31 January 2009.
  11. ^ О присвоении квалификационного разряда федеральным государственным служащим Администрации Президента Российской Федерации (Decree 2040) (in Russian). President of Russia. 23 December 2000.
  12. ^ Does the abrupt sacking of Russian nuclear energy minister signal a turnaround in Moscow`s policy on Iran's nuclear program? DEBKA Archived 2005-12-01 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "AtomEnergoProm established, board named". 10 July 2007. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 19 September 2007.
  14. ^ "Russia says Iranian plant will come on line in 2007". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. 19 September 2006. Archived from the original on 3 October 2006. Retrieved 2 October 2006.
  15. ^ "Kiriyenko: Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant fully accords int'l laws". Islamic Republic News Agency. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 2 October 2006.
  16. ^ "Iran's first nuclear plant begins fueling". CNN. 21 August 2010. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
  17. ^ "Director General". Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  18. ^ "Ядерные достижения приняли героическую форму". No. 116. Kommersant. 5 July 2018.
  19. ^ Kirienko leaves Rosatom to join Presidential AdministrationWorld Nuclear News. 6 October 2016
  20. ^ Fishman, Mikhail (29 September 2016). "Former Prime Minister to Become Putin's Right-Hand Man". The Moscow Times. Retrieved 12 January 2024.
  21. ^ "Russia: Censorship of Younger Generation's Music". Human Rights Watch. 28 February 2019. Retrieved 31 October 2021.
  22. ^ "Кириенко назвал глупостью запреты концертов молодежных исполнителей". ТАSS. 7 December 2018.
  23. ^ a b "The Viceroy: How Sergey Kiriyenko became Putin's point man in the Donbas and plans to shape Russia's 'post-war image'". Meduza. 10 June 2022.
  24. ^ Bershidsky, Leonid (15 June 2022). "Putin Prepares to Declare Himself a Conqueror". Bloomberg News.
  25. ^ "Ukrainian Hailed 'Hero' by Kremlin Reportedly Loses Home to Russian Bombs". Newsweek. 5 May 2022.
  26. ^ "Top Kremlin Official Unveils Pro-War Statue in Ukraine's Mariupol". The Moscow Times. 11 May 2022.
  27. ^ a b "Occupied Kherson Readying for Vote to Join Russia, Official Claims". The Moscow Times. 29 June 2022.
  28. ^ a b Aleksandrov, Aleksei (11 June 2022). "Russia Moving Forward With 'Referendum' Plans in Occupied Southern Ukraine, Says Kherson Mayor". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
  29. ^ "Russian politician files legal challenge over Putin's reference to Ukraine "war"". Reuters. 23 December 2022.
  30. ^ "UK and EU impose sanctions on six Russian officials over Navalny poisoning". Sky News. 15 October 2020. Retrieved 16 October 2020.
  31. ^ "Fact Sheet: United States Imposes First Tranche of Swift and Severe Costs on Russia". The White House. 22 February 2022. Retrieved 23 February 2022.
Political offices
Preceded by Prime Minister of Russia
Succeeded by
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Position created
Presidential Envoy to the Volga Federal District
18 May 2000 – 14 November 2005
Succeeded by