Russia‘s finance minister has left the government following a public row with President Dmitry Medvedev which blew apart the idea that Vladimir Putin‘s return to the presidency would entail a smooth transition.
A visibly angry Medvedev asked Alexei Kudrin to step down on Monday after the minister said he would refuse to serve once Medvedev swapped the presidency with Putin in May.
Medvedev called the liberal official an “irresponsible chatterbox” and denounced Kudrin’s claim that he would consult with Putin before making a decision on whether or not to leave the government.
“You know what, you can consult with whomever you want, but as long as I’m president, I take these decisions myself,” Medvedev said.
“I will take all necessary decisions until 7 May next year – I hope everyone understands that.”
Kudrin told RIA-Novosti news agency that he handed in his resignation late Monday. Medvedev’s spokeswoman, Natalia Timakova, claimed that the president fired Kudrin.
Kudrin is the highest-ranking liberal official in the Russian government, credited with easing the country’s ride through the global financial crisis and challenging hardline elements in the regime that hope to buy popularity through increased social spending.
His departure will rile foreign investors, who have relied on his commitment to reforms and fiscal discipline.
Russia’s economy has yet to truly recover from the financial crisis and has faced renewed challenges in recent weeks. The rouble fell to a two-year low on Monday.