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Illarionov (1)

jenni_snake, I found the articles about Illarionov's resignation.  The one behind the cut is from the Financial Times, 28 December 2005.

Putin's chief economic adviser quits

By Neil Buckley in Moscow

Dec. 28, 2005

Andrei Illarionov, President Vladimir Putin's chief economic adviser but also an acerbic critic of the Kremlin's grab for economic power, resigned yesterday, saying Russia was "no longer free".

Mr. Illarionov famously described Russia's partial renationalisation of the Yukos oil company 12 months ago as the "scam of the year".  Days later, he was stripped by Mr. Putin of his role as Russia's "sherpa", or representative, to the Group of Eight industrialised nations.

He survived in his post as economic adviser another year in spite of more outbursts, prompting some analysts to consider him a "court jester," kept on to promote the appearance of plurality within the Kremlin.

The resignation of one of the most prominent champions of liberal economic reform comes just days before Russia takes over the presidency of the G8 amid scrutiny of its record on democracy and freedom of speech.  Russia's upper house yesterday approved controls on charities and human rights groups.

"It is one thing to work in a country that is partly free," Mr. Illarionov said yesterday, saying Russia still qualified for that description when Mr. Putin came to power six years ago.  "It is another thing when the political system has changed, and the country has stopped being free and democratic.  "I did not sign a contract with such a state, and therefore it is absolutely impossible to remain in this post."

Mr. Illarionov added that he had considered it important to remain in his job "as long as I had the opportunity to do at least something, including speaking out", implying he no longer had that freedom.  His announcement came a week after a press conference in which he said Russia was moving to a "corporatist" model, dominated by state-controlled companies chaired by government representatives which did not always function according to economic criteria.

He said the "scam of the year" for 2005 had been a combination of events, including several takeovers of private companies by state-controlled giants -- notably the $13.1bn acquisition of Roman Abramovich's Sibneft by Gazprom, the state gas company.

He also cited the Russian state's increasing tendency to use energy as a "weapon" in relations with other countries.

It was a year ago that he described as a "scam" state-owned oil group Rosneft's acquisition of the main production unit of Yukos by means of a forced auction.

"In six years, the situation in the Russian economy has schanged radically," Mr. Illarionov said.  "There is no longer any possibility of conducting a policy of economic freedom."