Senior Kremlin official resigns, departs Russia over Ukraine invasion
Published Wednesday, March 23, 2022 10:11AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, March 23, 2022 10:11AM EDT
LONDON, March 23 (Reuters) -- Anatoly Chubais, the architect of Russia's post-Soviet economic reforms, has quit his post as a Kremlin special envoy and left the country due to the war in Ukraine, two sources told Reuters, the highest profile protest by a Russian figure against the invasion.
Chubais, who once served as former President Boris Yeltsin's chief of staff, left his post as Vladimir Putin's special representative for ties with international organizations, one of the sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
He was appointed to the post, which was charged with "achieving goals of sustainable development," in 2020, days after resigning as the head of state technology firm RUSNANO, which he had run since 2008.
The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Chubais left due to the conflict in Ukraine. He does not intend to return to Russia, one of the sources said.
Reached by a Reuters reporter, Chubais hung up his phone. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Chubais had resigned his post.
Putin calls the action in Ukraine a "special military operation" that he says was necessary because NATO's enlargement threatened Russia, and to halt what he called the "genocide" of Russian-speaking people in Ukraine since Moscow's 2014 annexation of Crimea.
Ukraine and its Western backers dismiss the claims of genocide. They believe Russia launched an unprovoked war to subjugate a neighbor Putin calls an artificial state.
Chubais was one of small group of influential economists under Yegor Gaidar who tried to cement Russia's post-Soviet transition that threw tens of millions of former Soviet citizens into poverty.
He was one of the most prominent Russians of the chaotic immediate post-Soviet era: enemies cast him as the Kremlin puppet master who sold off the assets of a former superpower to a small group oligarchs in the privatizations of the 1990s.
But to supporters, Chubais was a hero who fought to establish a market in Russia - and prevented it from tipping into civil war. When trouble loomed, it was often Chubais who post-Soviet Russia turned to.
In the 1998 crisis, Yeltsin told Chubais to agree loans from the International Monetary Fund. Then he was appointed as head of the state-owned electricity monopoly which was struggling to get paid for the electricity it sold.
As Putin began his rise to power by moving to Moscow, Chubais canceled the job in the Kremlin that Putin had been offered, Putin said in a series of interviews in 1999.
In recent years, Chubais continued to call for economic reform and was one of the most high-profile liberals associated with the Russian government.
Shortly after the invasion, Chubais wrote that since Gairdar's death in 2009, an entire era had passed.
"It seems that Gaidar understood the strategic risks better than I - and I was wrong," Chubais said.