NEW YORK (AP) – The resignation of a senior Russian government official and his move abroad was not the first voluntary departure of a person from a job in the state since the beginning of the war of Russia with Ukraine, but it was certainly one of the most striking.
Anatoly Chubais, who was President Vladimir Putin’s envoy to international organizations on sustainable development, is well known in Russia. He held top positions for nearly three decades, starting with Boris Yeltsin, the first post-Soviet leader.
A number of public figures condemned the invasion of Ukraine and quit their posts in state institutions and companies, which could signal divisions in Russia’s official ranks during the war. So far, there is no indication that the resignations have reached Putin’s inner circle.
The handful of departures came as Putin branded those who opposed his course ‘scum and traitors’, whom Russian society would spit out ‘like a gnat’.
Some of the most prominent figures who turned their backs on the Kremlin because of the war:
On Wednesday, the Kremlin confirmed media reports of the resignation of Chubais, 66, who was the architect of Yeltsin’s privatization drive. Reports, citing unnamed sources, said he quit because of the war. He has not publicly commented on his resignation.
Under Yeltsin, Chubais reportedly recommended the administration recruit Putin, a move widely seen as an important stepping stone in Putin’s career. Putin became president of Russia in 2000 when Yeltsin resigned.
Chubais also served as Deputy Prime Minister from 1994 to 1996 and First Deputy Prime Minister from 1997 to 1998.
Russian business newspaper Kommersant reported on Wednesday that Chubais was seen in Istanbul this week and posted a picture of a man resembling him at a Turkish ATM. Since the start of the invasion, Istanbul has received many Russians seeking to relocate.
Arkady Dvorkovich once served as Russia’s deputy prime minister and is currently the president of the International Chess Federation, or FIDE. He criticized the war with Ukraine in comments to Mother Jones magazine on March 14 and was criticized by the ruling Kremlin party.
“Wars are the worst things you can face in life. Any war. Everywhere. Wars don’t just kill priceless lives. Wars kill hopes and aspirations, freeze or destroy relationships and connections. Including this war,” he said.
Dvorkovich added that FIDE “ensure that there are no official chess activities in Russia or Belarus, and that players are not allowed to represent Russia or Belarus in official events. or rated until the war is over and Ukrainian players are back in chess”.
FIDE has banned a top Russian player for six months for his vocal support of Putin and the invasion.
Two days after Dvorkovich’s comments, a senior United Russia party official demanded that he be sacked as chairman of the state-backed Skolkovo Foundation. Last week, the foundation announced that Dvorkovich had decided to step down.
Lilia Gildeyeva was a longtime presenter of the state-funded NTV channel, who for two decades carefully toed the Kremlin line. She quit her job and left Russia soon after the invasion.
She told independent news site The Insider this week that she decided to “stop it all” on the first day of the February 24 invasion.
“It was an immediate nervous breakdown,” she said. “For several days, I couldn’t pull myself together. The decision was probably obvious right away. There will be no more work. »
Gildeyeva said news coverage on public TV channels was tightly controlled by the authorities, with the channels taking orders from the authorities. She admitted to accompanying him since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea and began supporting a separatist insurgency in Ukraine.
“When you surrender to yourself little by little, you do not notice the depth of the fall. And at some point you come face to face with the picture that leads to February 24,” she said.
Zhanna Agalakova was a journalist for another public television channel, Channel One, spending more than 20 years there and working as a presenter and then a correspondent in Paris, New York and other Western countries.
Reports of Agalakova quitting her job began to appear three weeks after the invasion. This week, she gave a press conference in Paris confirming the information and explaining her decision.
“We’ve gotten to a point where on television, on the news, we see the story of just one person – or the group of people around them. All we see are those in power. In our news, we don’t have the country. In our news, we don’t have Russia,” Agalakova said.
Referring to the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and support for separatists in Ukraine, she said she “could no longer hide from propaganda”, even as a foreign correspondent. Agalakova said she should ‘only talk about bad things happening in the United States’
“My reports didn’t contain any lies, but that’s exactly how propaganda works: you take reliable facts, mix them together and a big lie is formed. The facts are true, but mixing them together is propaganda,” she said.