Russian finance minister resigns over Medvedev's presidential plan

Russia's President-elect Dmitry Medvedev, left, with outgoing President Vladimir Putin at an Easter service at the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow on April 27, 2008.

Adriene Hill: We know how the next election in Russia will shape up. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev will continue their highly choreographed dance -- but this time, their roles will be reversed.

From Moscow, Peter van Dyke reports on what the shuffle means for business.


Peter van Dyk: Even as prime minister, Vladimir Putin has remained the most powerful man in Russia. After two terms as president, he ushered Medvedev into the top job. Next, Putin says Medvedev will be his prime minister, and lead a "new, young" government. That will not include Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin. He could have been prime minister, but he says he will not serve under Medvedev.

Ben Aris, the editor of Business New Europe, says investors will be disappointed.

Ben Aris: We like him very much because he's Mr. Sensible, Mr. Prudent, and him going means who's going to take over the baton of keeping the whole ship going, because the only reason we got through this crisis is because he's the one who built up the reserve fund.

Kudrin could only build up Russia's hundreds of billions of dollars in reserves with Putin's say-so. But Aris says he is tired of fighting to keep spending under control. Russia needs oil prices of $120 a barrel to balance its budget. Without Kudrin slowing the music down, a dramatic fall in oil prices could have Russia rocking and rolling.

In Moscow, I'm Peter van Dyk for Marketplace.

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