President Vladimir Putin has dished on Russia’s cabinet reshuffle for the first time since his sweeping shake-up of the government which led to the resignation of his longtime ally, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, last month.

Putin replaced Medvedev with little-known former tax chief Mikhail Mishustin as part of a wider push to jump-start Russia’s economy, accelerate state spending on major national projects and change the Russian Constitution. 

Here’s what Putin told the state-run TASS news agency in the first installment of its project dedicated to his two decades in power:

— On the breakup of the Putin-Medvedev “tandem”:

“Nothing fell apart.”

“We are working with Dmitry Anatolyevich like we used to. He has switched to another track in his career. That’s true. And natural, too.”

— On his decision to fire and replace Medvedev: 

“We had discussed [Medvedev’s replacement] earlier and he knew what was going on.”

“We have enjoyed very frank, collegial, friendly relations with Dmitry Anatolyevich for many years. We have no secrets from one another. So we discussed this issue with him.”

“[When asked who else knew about his plans] I did. Isn’t that enough?”

“[When asked about when he reached the decision] It’s a secret.”

— On choosing Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin:

“No one mentioned Mishustin except me… Three, or maybe even four candidates were submitted. But Mishustin was not on the list.”

“I took Mikhail Vladimirovich’s personal traits and professional skills into account. … He is good practitioner who understands what needs to be done, knows how to do it and does it, achieving a concrete result.”