Kudrin vs Sechin
There has been a story floating in and out of Russian politics for a while regarding former Finance Minister and Deputy PM Alexei Kudrin. It went like this: Kudrin was the leader of the economic liberals, and a counter-balance to Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, and his clan, the siloviki.
And, the narrative continued, Alexei Kudrin was the only person preventing the siloviki from dipping into the pot of money called the Stabilization Fund (a kind of rainy-day investment portfolio created for when oil prices dropped). The siloviki, the rumour mill alleged, wanted to use the money to improve infrastructure. Finance Minister Kudrin, however, wanted to keep that money safe for its intended use: riding out any future financial crisis.
After Kudrin’s dramatic exit on Monday (video here; and English transcript here), I’ve started to wonder if the story was all fake: something that Kudrin made up and then leaked in order to make himself seem more powerful in the eyes of the West.
We may never know, but it will be interesting to see if Putin ends up authorising any withdraws from the Fund in the coming months.
P.S. I do have some reactions to the decision of the Tandem to swap, but after poring over so many others’ reactions, I may just end up doing a summary.