Russian president confronts finance minister with resign call

Russia‘s finance minister has been urged to quit by the country’s president after he stated publicly that the pair disagreed on economic policy.

Western investors said finance minister Alexei Kudrin’s departure would be a deep blow to Russia’s economy and would set back prospects for reforms.

Kudrin, a close ally of Putin, said he disagreed with Medvedev over economic policy and would not be able to serve in a government under him if Vladimir Putin returned to the presidency in the March 2012 election.

“Such statements appear improper … and can in no way be justified. Nobody has revoked discipline and subordination,” Medvedev said at a meeting with officials, including Kudrin, in the city of Dimitrovgrad.

“If, Alexei, you disagree with the course of the president, there is only one course of action and you know it: to resign … Naturally, it’s necessary to answer here and now: will you write a resignation letter?”

Kudrin appeared to be stunned. “Yes, it is indeed true that I have disagreements with you. I will take a decision on your proposal after consulting with the prime minister [Putin],” Kudrin responded.

As president, Medvedev cannot dismiss Kudrin.

Putin’s announcement on Saturday that he planned to return to the Kremlin next year after nearly four years as prime minister was intended to end political uncertainty that has undermined Russia’s economic performance.

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