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Anatoly Chubais, who is the architect of Russia’s post-Soviet economic reforms and is President Vladimir Putin’s climate envoy has allegedly resigned in protest from his position in the Kremlin over the invasion of Ukraine and fled the country.
Chubais, 66, is the highest level member of Putin’s inner circle to jump ship as Russia attempts to reincorporate Ukraine by force. He once served as former President Boris Yeltsin’s chief of staff. An unnamed source said the envoy left his post as Putin’s special representative in protest but no specific reason was given, according to Reuters.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed his resignation on Wednesday, according to NBC News. He is asserting that he left of his own accord. Chubais’ resignation is the first solid sign of public discord within the country’s ruling elite.
The role that Chubais served was a relatively small one as an envoy for climate and sustainable development. Of greater note is the fact that he has been loyal to Putin for decades.
BREAKING: Russian govt official Anatoly Chubais has stepped down and left the country, citing his opposition to Putin’s war in Ukraine, sources tell Bloomberg News. He is highest-level official to break with the Kremlin over the invasion.
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) March 23, 2022
Chubais’ work as an economic reformer was a significant accomplishment both for him and for the Kremlin. He revolutionized the business landscape in Russia by privatizing industries. He held numerous top-level positions at various state companies which included RAO Unified Energy System of Russia.
The envoy had close ties with Western officials, so his high-profile defection will infuriate Putin even more. His exit may have been prompted by Putin’s promise that Russia would “self-cleanse” itself of “scum and traitors.” He surely fled in fear for his life and safety. Many oligarchs and others in Russia are said to have done the same while rumors swirl of others plotting to overthrow Putin.
“Any people, and particularly the Russian people, will always be able to tell the patriots from the scum and traitors and spit them out like a midge that accidentally flew into their mouths,” Putin proclaimed in the grip of growing paranoia. “I am convinced that this natural and necessary self-cleansing of society will only strengthen our country, our solidarity, cohesion and readiness to meet any challenge.”
John Lough, who is an associate fellow at London’s Chatham House think tank, told NBC News at the time that Putin was essentially saying: “Don’t think about having second thoughts. We’re all in this together, and if I go down, you go down.”
Signs of cracks in Russian elite. First Fridman, then Deripaska. Now Anatoly Chubais has just posted picture of Boris Nemtsov on his Facebook page. Nemtsov, seen by some as Yeltsin’s first choice 4 president, was murdered in front of the Kremlin seven years ago today pic.twitter.com/2jrLm4A3Oe
— Oliver Carroll (@olliecarroll) February 27, 2022
The envoy hinted last week at his departure, noting in a post on Facebook on the anniversary of the death of Yegor Gaidar that his fellow economic reformer “understood the strategic risks better than I did and I was wrong,” according to Bloomberg who first broke the story of Chubais stepping down.
In his 2006 book, “Death of Empire,” Gaidar warned of Putin’s vision of getting the band back together. “It’s not difficult to convince society that a state that collapsed so suddenly can be just as quickly rebuilt,” he wrote. “That’s an illusion, a dangerous one.”
Chubais’ resignation follows that of Arkady Dvorkovich, who served as a senior economic advisor to Dmitry Medvedev. Dvorkovich quit his role as the head of a state-backed tech fund, tech-focused Skolkovo Foundation, after condemning the invasion of Ukraine as well.
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