Top Putin adviser quits in ‘protest’ over Ukraine war and leaves Russia

Anatoly Chubais was once Vladimir Putin’s boss at the Kremlin

Laurie Churchman
Wednesday 23 March 2022 16:36
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<p>Anatoly Chubais, 66, is thought to have left Russia</p>

Anatoly Chubais, 66, is thought to have left Russia

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A veteran Kremlin official has quit his post and left the country, reportedly in protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Anatoly Chubais – known as the ‘father of the oligarchs’ – has stepped down as special climate envoy and departed Russia with no plans to return, according to reports.

Two sources told Reuters that Mr Chubais left due to the conflict in Ukraine.

File photo: Vladimir Putin meets with Anatoly Chubais at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, 7 November 2016

It will be seen as a high profile defection – the long-serving politician is the first senior official to break with the Kremlin since Vladimir Putin launched his attack a month ago.

Mr Chubais – who has not yet commented on his departure – was Mr Putin’s boss when the president first started at the Kremlin.

He was previously president Boris Yeltsin’s chief of staff and is credited with creating Russia’s modern-day oligarchy after putting 80 per cent of the country’s economy into private hands in the early 1990s – making a small group of businessmen extremely rich.

The 66-year-old’s resignation was confirmed by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Tuesday, who said Mr Chubais had stepped down of his own accord.

Mr Chubais kept close ties with Western officials and did not support the nomination of Mr Putin as president in 2000, according to several reports.

After Russia began its invasion last month, Mr Chubais posted a photo of Boris Nemtsov, a leading Russian opposition figure who was shot dead near the Kremlin in 2015. It was seen as a powerful statement from a Moscow insider.

Mr Chubais’ resignation appears to reflect growing divisions among top Russian officials over the war in Ukraine.

The government has been ramping up pressure on domestic critics of the invasion. Last week, Mr Putin vowed to cleanse Russia of the “scum and traitors” he accuses of working for the West.

This map shows the extent of the Russian invasion of Ukraine

The president mocked them as people who “cannot live without oysters and gender freedom.”

“But any people, and even more so the Russian people, will always be able to distinguish true patriots from scum and traitors, and simply spit them out like a gnat that accidentally flew into their mouths, spit them out on the pavement,” he said.

Mr Chubais has served in a variety of official jobs over the past three decades.

In 2005, he survived a roadside assassination attempt.

A mine packed with bolts and screws exploded shortly after his armoured BMW passed over it, forcing a second car carrying his bodyguards to halt on a quiet tree-lined avenue outside Moscow.

Kalashnikov-wielding attackers shot at the convoy from the roadside, fleeing when Mr Chubais’ bodyguards returned fire.

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