The Russian mass media have covered the resignation of rector of the Russian economic school /RESh/ Sergei Guriev, a move that caused a public stir. It is generally assumed it followed the scandal related to the second Yukos case, in which the economist had participated as an expert, or it was his punishment for open support of Opposition activist Alexei Navalny. The Investigative Committee said it had questioned Guriev as a witness. Meanwhile, the Russian economic school has not confirmed the resignation of its rector.
On Wednesday, the fate of economist Sergei Guriev was not clear, the Novye Izvestia writes. It was known that some time ago, he had been questioned at the Investigative Committee within the framework of the "Yukos case," that he would not be nominated for the board of directors of the Russian Venture Company and the observer council of the Savings Bank, and that at present, the economist is staying abroad. "Better in Paris than in Krasnokamensk," Guriev wrote on Facebook as he answered bloggers' questions. However, he did not confirm the information about resigning as RESh rector, while the RESh press service reported that the rector was on holiday abroad until June 7.
The Vedomosti claims that the reason behind Sergei Guriev's leaving Russia is his negative conclusion on the second verdict for Mikhail Khodorkovsky and that now he may be accused of obstructing justice.
On Wednesday, the Investigative Committee confirmed that Sergei Guriev had been questioned within the main Yukos case, which is also called "mother Yukos case," the newspaper writes. This is the prime motive behind the economist's leaving Russia, Guriev's acquaintance told the Vedomosti on Wednesday. The case was opened in 2003 over damages to the Apatit company. Later, all numerous cases against Yukos officials spun off from this case, including the cases against directors and co-owners of the company Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev.
Guriev was questioned slightly more than a month ago; the economist is a witness in the main Yukos case, his lawyer Ruslan Kozhura told the Vedomosti. Investigators had asked Guriev about the circumstances around the expert conclusion on the second case against Khodorkovsky and Lebedev, he added.
The expert examination of the second case was carried out at the instruction of former President Dmitry Medvedev in 2011, after the guilty verdict became effective. Guriev was one of the six Russian experts enlisted by the presidential human rights council. Almost all experts said the prosecution of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev was groundless.
Obviously, "the experts' episode" was separated from the main Yukos case, said the lawyer, who is well-versed in the Yukos story. A person close to Yukos is confident that the meaning behind all this is to bring charges against Khodorkovsky and Lebedev the third time.
The expert conclusions were given by six well-known Russian economists, enlisted by the presidential council for human rights for public expert examination of the Yukos case, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta explained. They questioned the legitimacy of the guilty verdict for Khodorkovsky. And paid for it, as law-enforcement bodies began to pay increased attention to them.
The experts are suspected of taking a reward from bodies which are under control of the former oligarch. The first questionings and searches took place last autumn. Guriev was only questioned this last April.
Meanwhile, independent experts and government officials regret the possible resignation of the RESh rector. Finance Minister Anton Siluanov regretted the situation. "I'm very sorry he's quitting," he told reporters.
Minister for Open Government Affairs Mikhail Abyzov said the expert council under the Russian government would continue to cooperate with Sergei Guriev despite his stepping down as RESh rector.
According to research advisor at the higher school of economics Yevgeny Yasin, Guriev is one of the best, if not the best economist in the country. "Treating an outstanding scientist in such a manner is inadmissible. It's a blow at Russia's international prestige," Yasin said.
He said he sees that many specialists have preferred leaving Russia, as has Guriev. Some persons in the "experts case" have emigrated, too.