Russia's finance minister to quit over Medvedev

AP News
Posted: Sep 25, 2011 11:25 AM
Russia's finance minister to quit over Medvedev

Russia's finance minister has said he will step down rather than serve under Dmitry Medvedev if the president becomes prime minister next year as planned.

Alexei Kudrin has been finance minister since 2000 and his conservative fiscal policies are widely credited with helping Russia weather the 2008-2009 global financial crisis.

He is close to Vladimir Putin, the current prime minister, who Saturday announced his intention to return to the presidency next year. Putin said he would then name Medvedev prime minister.

Kudrin told reporters from Russia's state news agencies in Washington later Saturday that he would not serve in Medvedev's government because of disagreements over economic policy.

He specifically cited Medvedev's plans to increase military spending.

"I do not see myself in the new government, and it is not just that I have not been offered the job," he told reporters on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. "I think that those differences of opinion that I have will not allow me to join the government."

During Putin's presidency from 2000 to 2008, Kudrin stashed some of the revenue from Russia's oil exports in a stabilization fund. In doing so, he had faced strong opposition from other government ministers who wanted the money for expenditures, but when the financial crisis hit and oil prices fell, those savings proved crucial in reducing the blow.

Medvedev's spokeswoman, Natalya Timakova, said it was too soon to discuss the composition of the next government.

"President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin proceed from the understanding that all federal officials are continuing to perform their duties at their place of work," she was quoted by state news agencies as saying. "If someone has other ideas, they should be ready to change their place of work."

Putin's spokesman said Kudrin has never hidden his disagreements with Putin or Medvedev on economic policies.

"He is a professional economist," Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying. "He is an economist with a capital letter."

Kudrin, 50, had been mentioned as a possible prime minister under Putin if he returned to the presidency.