Anatoly Chubais, the architect of Russia’s market reforms in the 1990s and President Vladimir Putin’s climate envoy, has quit his post, becoming the highest-ranking official to stand down following the invasion of Ukraine.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed that Chubais, 66, had resigned, but declined to comment on reports he had left Russia. “Whether or not he’s left the country — that’s a personal matter,” Peskov said, according to state news agency RIA Novosti.
News of Chubais’ resignation was first reported by Bloomberg and confirmed by TASS, another Russian state news agency. Newspaper Kommersant published a blurry photo of Chubais in Istanbul withdrawing money from an ATM. He hung up on a reporter for Forbes Russia who called him for comment.
The red-headed reformer was a top aide to Boris Yeltsin, Russia’s first democratically elected president, and was a major architect of reforms that created a private sector following seven decades of Soviet communism.
He also lined up Putin’s first job in the Kremlin, bringing in the former KGB officer who had made a second career in St. Petersburg city hall. Putin went on to become head of Russia’s spy agency and prime minister, before succeeding Yeltsin as president in 2000.
Chubais remained a key figure in the Putin era, leading an overhaul of the country’s power sector, running a high-tech investment fund and becoming Moscow’s climate envoy in 2020.
Russian opposition figures were unimpressed. Commenting on the news, a spokesperson for jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny dismissed suggestions that Chubais had resigned in protest at the war. “Anatoly Chubais left Russia solely to save his own skin and and his own money,” Kira Yarmysh said in a tweet.