Finance minister resigns
Russian Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin resigned (or was sacked depending upon who you believe), yesterday following comments he made against President Dmitry Medvedev on television.
The finance minister brought into question the economic competence of the president and said that he would not serve under him as prime minister. The comments which were made in front of the president on a television show caused Medvedev to tell him to withdraw the comments or resign. A few hours later the finance minister was gone with current prime minister Vladimir Putin appearing to back the president.
Aleksei Kudrin has been Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation since 18th May 2000. He is respected in the markets and the resignation is bound to worry investors in what is already a politically volatile period.
The open spat on television suggests that there are deep splits within the government despite the glitzy show laid on at the weekend. Nevertheless, Mr Kudrin must have known what he was doing and this suggests that there may be some deeper reasoning or a miscalculation on his part. It could be that after nearly twelve years in the Deputy Prime Minister role he had hoped to get the Prime Minister job.
At the weekend the deal was announced that Prime Minister Putin would once more become President and President Medvedev would become Prime Minister – and in the heavily controlled political world of Russia there is very little doubt about either result even though elections will be held later this year.