Anatoly Chubais, a high-ranking Russian official who led the country’s post-Soviet economic reforms, has resigned from his post and fled the country in opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, multiple news outlets reported Wednesday, making him the first high-level figure to officially distance himself from the Kremlin.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed Chubais has stepped down as Russia’s climate envoy, after it was first reported by Bloomberg.
Chubais, 66, and his spouse have fled to Istanbul, according to Russian media outlet RBC.
Late last month, Chubais posted a photo of Boris Nemtsov, a leading Russian opposition figure murdered on a Moscow bridge in 2015, on social media, which was interpreted as a sign of opposition to the war, according to media reports.
Chubais wore many hats before Russian President Vladimir Putin named him the climate envoy in December 2020: he oversaw Russia’s post-communist privatization of state businesses in the 1990s, once led a liberal opposition party and ran the Russian state technology firm RUSNANO.
While a key official in the government of Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Chubais gave Putin his first Kremlin job, in the presidential property department.
“Anatoly Chubais left Russia only out of fear for his own skin and his own money,” Kira Yarmysh, spokesperson for Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, tweeted.
Moscow has ratcheted up pressure on domestic opponents of Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Putin said last week that the Russian public “will always be able to distinguish true patriots from scum and traitors.” He went on to warn that he would take action against critics on grounds Russia would be strengthened by what he called “necessary self-purification.” Russian police have arrested around 15,000 people for protesting the invasion of Ukraine, according to the Russian human rights organization OVD-Info.
Some Russian oligarchs speak out, cautiously, against war (Associated Press)