First major Russia defection, as Putin aide Anatoly Chubais quits Kremlin post

First major Russia defection, as Putin aide Anatoly Chubais quits Kremlin post
Former adviser to President Putin, Anatoly Chubais, has left his post at the Kermlin, sparking speculation of dissatisfaction with the invasion of Ukraine.
2 min read
Anatoly Chubais was the sustainable development adviser to President Vladimir Putin [Getty]

Anatoly Chubais, a prominent Russian liberal reformer of the 1990s, has quit his post as sustainable development adviser to President Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin confirmed Wednesday.

A source close to Chubais told state news agency TASS that the 66-year-old, who has sometimes voiced criticisms of Putin's actions, had left the country, while the Kremlin did not confirm this.

"Chubais resigned according to his own desire. But whether he has left or not -- that's his personal business," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told RIA Novosti state news agency.

Peskov did not give a reason for Chubais's resignation and the politician has not made a public statement.

Chubais was an economist who oversaw liberal free market reforms in the 1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union, including a privatisation drive, a role for which he remained highly unpopular in Russia.

Live Story

Unlike some other liberals, he stayed working for Putin's regime.

He headed a state energy monopoly, followed by a post as chair of Rusnano, a group established by the Russian state to develop nano technology. In December 2020 he was appointed a special presidential envoy to international organisations, working on sustainable development.

His recent posts on Facebook have included a photograph of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, who was murdered outside the Kremlin walls in 2015. 

On March 19, he posted a photograph of Yegor Gaidar, a fellow liberal reformer who died in 2009, writing: "I didn't agree with him in our arguments about the future of Russia. But it seems that Gaidar understood the strategic risks better than me and I was wrong."

Chubais is married to television presenter and filmmaker Avdotya Smirnova.

RBK news agency reported, citing two acquaintances of Chubais, that the couple have flown to Istanbul, while one said the politician planned to return to Russia.