Capping several days of speculation and rumor, Russian first deputy prime minister Anatoly Chubais announced his resignation last night. The forty-year-old economist joined the government under reformist Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar in 1991 and was a key architect of Russian economic reform and, especially, the Kremlin’s controversial privatization policy. Chubais and Yeltsin economic advisor Aleksandr Livshits took pains to portray the resignation as merely a change of personnel rather than a change of policy. The departure of Chubais comes, however, on the heels of the December parliamentary elections, which brought success to communists and nationalists critical of economic reform, and amid remarks by top Kremlin officials that an adjustment in economic policy is indeed imminent. Officials from the International Monetary Fund, in Moscow for talks on new loans to Russia, had expressed concern earlier in the day over the rumors of the resignation. Chubais has played a key role in Moscow’s negotiations with the IMF, and his departure could complicate the chances for continued cooperation. There was no announcement of a replacement for Chubais. (1)
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