Chubais was not a member of Putin’s dwindling inner circle of hard-line security and military leaders, known as siloviki, or men of power. But his passing highlights the anxiety felt by many in Russia’s comfortable urban classes about Putin’s war and his growing hunt for traitors and the “Fifth Column Book”.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Chubais had resigned but did not confirm his departure. “Yes. Chubais resigned of his own volition. Whether he left or not is up to him,” Peskov told the Interfax news agency.
Ruslan Edelegrev, President Vladimir Putin’s representative on climate issues, also confirmed Chubais’ resignation in comments to RIA Novosti.
Chubais has left Russia, TASS news agency reported, while Kommersant newspaper published a photo of him withdrawing cash from an ATM in Istanbul. Bloomberg news agency, which first reported the news, reported that he left Russia due to his opposition to Putin’s war.
Chubais’ wife, Avdotia Smirnova, signed an open letter from the philanthropist to Putin last month opposing the war.
Chubais was unpopular in Russia for his role in helping pay for the notorious “loan-for-shares” privatization deal in the mid-1990s, which spawned Russia’s hard-line oligarchy. Under the agreement, a group of bankers loaned money to the government, and in return it bought gems of Russian industry at reduced prices, including Vladimir Potanin, who acquired a large stake in Norilsk Nickel.
In the early 1990s Chubais was part of a team of reformists linked to economist Igor Gaidar, the latter of whom served as deputy prime minister and finance minister but quit before the loan-for-share deal.
Last week, Chpay, 66, posted a slanted post on Facebook commemorating Gaidar’s death in 2009. He said he was wrong about the strategic risks Russia faces, an apparent reference to the country’s current direction under Putin.
Chubbs said it appears that “a whole era” has passed since Gaydar’s death.
“In our discussions about Russia’s future, I did not always agree with him. But it seems that Jedar understood strategic risks better than I did, and I was wrong,” Chubais wrote.
He recently posted an appreciation on his Facebook page for Boris Yeltsin. On February 27, Chubais memorialized the death of prominent pro-democracy politician Boris Nemtsov, who was shot dead near the Kremlin in 2015 after he strongly criticized Putin’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. (Facebook and Instagram are banned in Russia and a court in Moscow on Tuesday banned parent company Meta as an “extremist” organization.)
Chubais, who was like Putin from Saint Petersburg, is said to have given Putin his first job in the Kremlin in 1997 and supported his rise to power in 1999.
In 2008, Chubais was appointed to the Russian company Nanotechnology Corp, a state nanotechnology company that was supposed to develop the latest technology, which was later renamed Rosnano. Chubais was fired in December 2020 amid friction over unprofitable projects and inefficiency. Instead, Putin has established a role for him as an envoy for sustainable development.
Last week, Arkady Dvorkovich, a former Kremlin aide and former deputy prime minister, resigned as head of the state-backed Skolkovo Technology Fund after he faced heavy criticism for speaking out against the invasion.
“Coffee trailblazer. Certified pop culture lover. Infuriatingly humble gamer.”