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Russia’s finance chief to quit over Medvedev

Alexei Kudrin had differences over economic policy. Alexei Kudrin had differences over economic policy.
Associated Press / September 26, 2011

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MOSCOW - 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, 50, 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 said during 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.

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