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Well-known economist Sergei Guriev may resign from many posts for supporting Opposition activist

May 29, 2013, 12:05 UTC+3

Two of Guriev's friends said he had come under pressure from the authorities

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Rector of the Russian economic school Sergei Guriev may resign from many posts, the Vedomosti claims. According to the newspaper, Guriev, a leading economist, came under the authorities' pressure after he had publicly supported Opposition activist Alexei Navalny.

Sergei Guriev withdrew his candidacy for the new observer council of the Savings Bank, the bank reported. The annual shareholders' meeting is due on Friday. "It's my own decision, not somebody's; I have personal circumstances; they have nothing to do with the Savings Bank, I have nothing to reproach the Bank for," Guriev told the Vedomosti. Guriev has been on Savings Bank's observer council since 2008.

Two of Guriev's friends said he had come under pressure from the authorities. For example, he was summoned for questioning in a Yukos case. Another friend of Guriev said he knew that the Russian economic school had received funds from the open economics institute a decade ago. At that time, Valery Makarov was rector of the Russian economic school, not Guriev. "Guriev is a witness in the case," the source added. An SK representative confirmed to the Vesdomosti that some time ago, Guriev had been questioned in a case related to Yukos. He refused to elaborate. Guriev made no comments as he had pledged secrecy.

The economist's friends and a federal official who are well-versed in this story, explain pressure on Guriev by his public criticism of the authorities' actions and support of Opposition activist Alexei Navalny. "Guriev began to support Navalny," agreed another federal official who is close to the United Russia leadership. For example, he announced a transfer of money to the anti-corruption fund set up by Navalny.

Still another official said it was not criticism that caused the Kremlin's serious concerns, but the rumors that Guriev was drawing an economic program for Navalny. The interest in the leadership of the Russian economic school within the framework of the Yukos case appeared several months ago, according to two of Guriev's acquaintances. But after Guriev supported Navalny in 2013, investigators immediately had more questions for Guriev.

"I've never written to, but have never refused to write a program for Navalny, as I've never refused to communicate with him and openly supported him," Guriev said. He made no comments if he would step down from boards of directors at other companies. Aside from Savings Bank, he is a member of the boards of Alfa Insurance, Russian Venture Company and E.On Russia. Two top managers of the companies that employ Guriev, know about his "problems." One of them even knows that Guriev plans to quit the councils in order not to endanger the companies.

One of Guriev's acquaintances knows that Guriev might step down as rector of the Russian economic school. Reuters and Prime reported his resignation, citing government and academic sources.

Guriev has always actively cooperated with state-run companies and engaged in state projects in various fields, the Vedomosti underlines. He was one of the authors of the Skolkovo idea, a member of Dmitry Medvedev's "open government", and a member of the council for human resources under Moscow Town Hall.

Guriev is one of the best known and competent economists in Russia, FBK partner Igor Nikolayev noted. He often participates at forms, including international ones, and has taken part in government projects.

Guriev is a brilliant, outstanding economist, Andres Aslund, senior fellow at the Washington-based Peterson institute for international economics said. He is an excellent organizer. The Russian economic school he created is the best economic education institution in Europe; perhaps only England has a better one.





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