Russian exile named new EBRD chief economist

3rd November 2015, Comments 0 comments

Russian Sergei Guriev was named Tuesday as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development's new chief economist -- two years after he fled Russia for France claiming pressure from law enforcement.

He will join the London-based EBRD in the middle of 2016 after fulfilling his teaching commitments at the Sciences Po university in Paris.

The former rector of Moscow's New Economic School said he fled in 2013 out of fear of being prosecuted for helping write a report critical of jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky's second conviction.

Guriev said his EBRD appointment was an honour.

"The bank plays an important part in helping to develop the economies of our countries and I look forward to my involvement in that work," he said.

When rumours of the appointment first circulated last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin told his human rights council: "I don't know why he fled, nobody made any complaints about him.

"I think he didn't flee, it's just that his wife has been working abroad for a long time, he found a job abroad, went there, they pay better there, and that's it," Putin said.

"If he decides to come back and work here, please, we would be only too happy," he added.

In recent years, Guriev has contributed to the EBRD's transition reports and has been on the chief economist's external advisory panel.

Hans Peter Lankes has been the acting chief economist since January.

EBRD president Suma Chakrabarti said: "I am very happy that an economist of Sergei Guriev's standing will be joining us.

"He brings a huge amount of experience and expertise to the job and to the bank's executive committee.

"He has a deep knowledge of the countries where we operate and, as chief economist, will play a major role in helping us to deliver our mission."

The EBRD was founded in 1991 to promote the transition of post-communist countries to market economics.

It is now active in 37 countries, including Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia as well as ex-Soviet bloc nations such as Azerbaijan, Hungary and Ukraine.

© 2015 AFP

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