Putin said he named Boris Titov, a former associate of his tycoon ally Mikhail Prokhorov, to the post. Titov, a member of Putin's All-Russia People's Front, also heads the business lobbying group Delovaya Rossiya and runs several companies, including the sparkling wine maker Abrau-Durso.
In the speech yesterday (21 June), Putin said the ombudsman would represent foreign and Russian investors in legal cases and go to court to block officials whose actions were harming their interests. He said the necessary decree to create the post would be signed soon and Titov would start working within weeks.
Putin re-affirmed the government's long-awaited privatisation programme and said foreign investors would also have the opportunity to take part.
Russia has been often criticised by its Western partners with respect to the byzantine conditions for foreign investors, and especially the small and medium firms.
The appointment of an ombudsman appears to signal that Putin continues to rely on the system of political protection, rather of setting clear and transparent rules and a fair judiciary. According to the Moscow Times, the announcement was received with cautious welcome from forum participants.
The new position will enjoy a special relationship with the Prosecutor General's Office, Putin said.
In his 52-minute speech that identified corruption as the biggest threat to Russia and conceded that the country's oil price dependence was its Achilles' heel, Putin also lambasted European democracies for an inability to make effective political decisions and said Russia was leading the world in responsible economic stewardship.
And he fired a warning shot across the bows of Russia's increasingly active opposition, asserting that just because people consider themselves politicians “doesn't mean they are above the law”.
Since the presidential election campaign earlier this year, the opposition has held anti-Putin rallies on a daily basis. In recent weeks, investigators have searched the homes of prominent opposition leaders and their families, and called them in for questioning.
Putin promised to lead a reform-minded Kremlin and ticked off a list of areas where he said improvements would take place, including the law enforcement system, the judicial system, education, healthcare and housing.