Putin to keep demoted ally Patrushev on Russia's Security Council

FILE PHOTO: Russia's Security Council Secretary Patrushev attends Prosecutor General collegium meeting in Moscow

(Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin will keep demoted ally Nikolai Patrushev, a Cold War warrior who crafted the Kremlin's national security strategy, on Russia's top consulting security body, according to a decree published on Tuesday.

In one of the most surprising moves in the May reshuffle of his entourage and the government, Putin moved Patrushev from his 16-year stint as the country's security chief to a position with virtually no power - to oversee shipbuilding as a Kremlin aide.

With no explanation given for the demotion, Putin stirred weeks of media and diplomatic speculations on what would happen to Patrushev, viewed for years as one of Russia's most powerful figures, and what it means for Russia's course.

The 72-year-old Patrushev, a former director of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) from St Petersburg where Putin was born, once delivered sensitive Kremlin signals to both the Chinese and the Americans.

He is also credited with helping to root out the ideological foundations of Russia's biggest confrontation with the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

"Considering Patrushev's reported personal importance to Putin's regime stability and Putin's longtime tendency to balance Russian siloviki (strongmen with political influence) such as Patrushev within the power vertical, Patrushev's next position will be an important reflection of Putin's intent," analysts at the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War, said in a May report.

Russia's Security Council, chaired by Putin, is a Kremlin consultative body responsible for managing and integrating national security policy. It does not have direct authority over Russia's security agencies and ministries.

In its decree published on a government website Putin also named the new Russian Defence Minister Andrei Belousov as a permanent member of the Security Council.

(This story has been refiled to change the date of publication of the decree to Tuesday, not Monday, in paragraph 1)

(Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)