Following Saturday’s announcement, one thing is clear in Moscow — Vladimir Putin is the most powerful person in the Russia (and will likely be for a long time).
But now, the fight is on to see who is the second most important.
Today Dimitry Medvedev demanded that his government’s Finance Minister resign by the end of the day.
The shock demand came after Aleksei Kudrin told journalists in Washington D.C. that he would not work in a government with Medvedev as Prime Minister.
It seems likely that Kudrin — well respected for his control of the Russian economy — had himself angling for the Prime Minister position. When passed over, he refused to serve with his rival — and perhaps began formulating his old coup for the presidency.
“Over the past year, the clans and groups that had been pushing for a continuation of Medvedev’s presidency grew weaker and part of them reoriented themselves toward Kudrin and the idea that the main organiser of possible reforms and changes and the easing out of conservative groups would be Kudrin,” Moscow-based analyst Vladimir Pribylovsky told RFE/RL.
Indeed, Kudrin’s good reputation (he is the longest serving finance minister in the Group of Eight) led some to some concerns about Russia’s fiscal health.
“Kudrin personifies Russia’s macro- and fiscal stability. His departure would be a major blow to the Russian investment case,” said Roland Nash, chief strategist at hedge fund Verno Capital told Reuters.
“But I don’t think you should count him out quite yet. He is as close to Putin as Medvedev. Perhaps this is a bid for the role of prime minister.”
It seems Medvedev understands just how important Kudrin’s comments may be. Whether he’s ended Kudrin’s campaign before its begun or just bought himself some time remains to be seen.
UPDATE: Looks like Kurdin is out. Reuters tweets that a Kremlin official tells them that he has been “dismissed” while Russia Today says he has resigned (at this point we’re not sure there is a difference).
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