Russia’s finance minister has resigned, following strong criticism from the president.
Alexei Kudrin had been told by Dmitry Medvedev he had only one course of action, after saying he would not be part of a future government if the country’s two main leaders swap roles.
The president said at the weekend that he proposed changing places with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin next year.
Kudrin replied that in such a scenario he would “definitely refuse” to serve in a government headed by Medvedev.
Kudrin has cited differences over economic policy, but some analysts believe the real axe he has to grind concerns the prime minister’s job.
Some observers say Kudrin’s move might be a political manoeuvre, making his mark now to stake his own claim to the premiership in the future.
“I would even expect the first prime minister whom Putin designates right after the 2012 elections to be a prime minister lasting about one year – a temporary premier, and later it’s completely possible that Kudrin will take his place,” said analyst Nikolai Petrov of the Moscow Carnegie Centre.
Some believe the proposed power carve-up risks making a mockery of next year’s elections and Russia’s political landscape.
Alarmed by the prospect of Putin back as president for perhaps another two terms, former USSR leader Mikhail Gorbachev has said there will be no progress unless the entire system is replaced.