Ex-minister slams 'degradation' of Russia politics

26th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

An ex-cabinet minister who now heads the state nanotechnology firm, on Wednesday told a glitzy congress including President Dmitry Medvedev that political life in Russia had degraded.

Anatoly Chubais, who was the father of Russia's controversial privatisation programme under president Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s, bluntly said there was a gulf between the country's weak political development and its economic progress.

His comments marked a rare negative comment by a heavyweight figure about the political situation in Russia under strongman Vladimir Putin. Most officials carefully toe the line, especially at major occasions.

Explosively, Chubais also suggested that the contrast between the economic development and political stagnation could not continue for much longer.

"In the last years economic life in Russia has developed. But political life has degraded. As I understand it, this situation cannot last long," Chubais told a forum organised by his Rosnano nanotechnology corporation.

"Sooner or later these two processes, which are the two sides of the same coin, have to complement each other," he told the congress, the Interfax news agency reported.

Chubais did not go into further details but his outspoken remarks came after last month's announcement that Putin would stand again for the Kremlin in 2012 polls dashed hopes of swift political change in Russia.

Medvedev, who has failed to turn pledges of radical reform into meaningful action, is set to take Putin's current job of prime minister when his mentor returns to the Kremlin.

Chubais is one of the last survivors from the era of radical reform in the 1990s under Yeltsin which was spearheaded by the late economist Yegor Gaidar.

However the red-haired official remains a figure of hate for many Russians over the decision to sell prize state assets at knock-down prices to an elite group of well-connected oligarchs.

© 2011 AFP

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