Medvedev hit by snub from finance chief

Julian Harris
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FINANCE minister Alexei Kudrin has ruled out taking a job in Russia’s next government, citing irreconcilable policy differences with President Dmitry Medvedev, who is likely to become premier in a job swap with Vladimir Putin.

Kudrin (below) is the longest serving finance minister in the Group of Eight and has won the respect of investors for his hawkish fiscal stance and decision to save windfall oil revenues in a rainy-day fund.

“I do not see myself in a new government,” Kudrin, 50, told reporters in Washington at the weekend.

“The point is not that nobody has offered me the job; I think that the disagreements I have will not allow me to join this government.”

Asked whether he would accept a role, Kudrin said: “I would definitely decline.” He said it was premature to comment on his future plans.

He spoke after the leaders of Russia’s dual power structure, Putin and Medvedev, announced on Saturday they would switch roles after parliamentary and presidential elections.

Kudrin, speaking after the IMF conference, said he disagreed with Medvedev on economic policy, especially on the president’s insistence that Russia increase arms spending.

He said the higher outlays created risks to the public finances, which are reliant on high, and rising oil prices. Russia is the world's largest oil producer.

“Before the crisis, our budget balanced at $90 per barrel, this year at $109 and next year at $112,” Kudrin told reporters.