Medvedev offers critical Kudrin chance to resign
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday gave Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin until the end of the day to decide on his future after he vehemently criticised the Kremlin's economic policies.
"If you do not agree with the policy of the president, which is executed by the government, then you have one option -- to resign," Russian news agencies quoted Medvedev as telling Kudrin. "You need to decide quickly what to do and give me an answer today," he added.
Kudrin's comments, made at the weekend in the United States, took the authorities by surprise and spoiled the announcement that Vladimir Putin would take over as president in 2012 polls with Medvedev as prime minister.
He said he had major differences with Medvedev whom he accused of seeking to ramp up spending -- in particular on the military -- to the detriment of Russia's budgetary position.
"Such statements do not look decent and cannot in any way be justified," Medvedev fumed, according to Russian news agencies.
Appearing to tackle head on the idea that he was a lame duck after the weekend, Medvedev added: "No one cancelled discipline and subordination in the government."
Medvedev said that he would take all decisions about personnel changes in the government until the new president is inaugurated in May after the March elections.
"Any irresponsible chatterbox will have to cross me and I will take all decisions until May 7 next year. I hope that everyone understands that," said Medvedev he said at a government meeting on modernisation.
Kudrin replied that he did indeed have differences with Medvedev but would make his decision after consulting with Putin.
"You can consult with whom you like, including the prime minister. But for the moment I am president and I will take these decisions myself," snapped Medvedev.
Many analysts said that Medvedev's decision to step aside for Putin and instead offer himself as prime minister was a humiliation for the incumbent head of state who will be the only one term president in post-Soviet Russian history.
© 2011 AFP