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by John Helmer, Moscow 

Alexei Kudrin (lead image) , officially Russia’s state auditor, is the irrepressible successor to President Vladimir Putin upon whom the oligarchs, the western secret services and the London and New York financial press agree.

Their dream team for regime change comprises Alexei Navalny as president; Kudrin as either Vice President or Prime Minister. According to the latest nationwide poll of political trust, Navalny is the trusted choice of between 2% and 4%, no better than he was polling three years ago. Last month, however, Kudrin, had  fallen off the trust list altogether. A year ago, he managed to make it on to the distrust list, running just behind Navalny between 2% and 3%.   

It’s his insignificance that Kudrin has determined to do something about. So last week he issued a three-year macro-economic strategy for the country. As the Moscow financial press noticed, this is the first time the Accounting Chamber exceeded its official mandate, challenging both the Finance Ministry and the Central Bank.

When we last audited Kudrin’s political account in February of this year, we reported:   “In the politics of the Russian succession, Alexei Kudrin, 59 years of age, has two distinctions. The first is that he is hated by the General Staff, Igor Sechin, and a large number of Russian voters. The second is that he is loved by the US Government, the international banks, the Russian oligarchs, and President Vladimir Putin. He failed once, nine years ago, to replace Dmitry Medvedev as prime minister; Medvedev sacked him. He failed again, in May 2018, to become Putin’s vice president; Putin nominated him to be chairman of the state auditor, the Accounting Chamber, when his parliamentary vote of approval was the lowest ever. Kudrin is trying again, and Moscow sources believe Putin is already advancing him. How far will the two of them get? Recently, Kudrin has been meeting officially with the President more often than is normal. This has led to speculation in Moscow that Putin is promoting him behind Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin.”

Since then Kudrin has remained a fixture at the president’s regular meeting with favoured members of the government, headed by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin. The latest of these was on October 28.  In the Kremlin communiqué Kudrin was  listed in the very last, nineteenth place on the table of attendance.  He was not reported as saying anything. He did not mention his brand-new personal strategy for Russia.

Source: http://en.kremlin.ru/

The last face-to-face meeting Kudrin is recorded officially as having with Putin was in August, when he presented an account of his official functions. They had met in January when Putin called it a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Accounting Chamber. Putin also allowed Kudrin a marginal increase in his official mandate. “I strongly hope that the Accounts Chamber will take, just as we have agreed, an even broader look at its objectives, or more precisely, that in this situation it will also monitor the implementation of national projects. I know that this often provokes disputes with the Government and some experts, but I believe that it is an absolutely natural process without which we cannot and will not find the necessary solutions. In other words, I would like to congratulate you on the anniversary and to wish all the best to you and to the Accounts Chamber.”

Source: http://en.kremlin.ru

At the August session Putin made the agenda of the meeting appear to be the auditing of state budget spending, Kudrin’s official function.   “In recent months, we have mainly focused on healthcare issues, infection control and the like. But people are obviously concerned about the matters you want to discuss; they are no less important, and we must not lose sight of them. I know that, among other things, you would like to start with how government money is spent on measures that are part of municipal solid waste management reform. Let us begin with this. As far as I know, you also wanted to talk about unfinished construction projects and the development of the Far East.”

Kudrin did not ask for Putin’s permission to stretch his official function to preparing a national economic strategy. If Putin agreed, he did it in secret.

The Financial Times, the principal international promoter of Kudrin as Russia’s new ruler, has mentioned him three times this year, on each occasion to hint that as Putin was dropping into political decline, Kudrin remained the alternative.  In April, the newspaper’s editorial board portrayed Kudrin as the state official who understood better than the Kremlin how much suffering the country was having to endure.

Source: https://www.ft.com/
The Wall Street Journal quoted Kudrin six times this year.

In May Henry Foy, the FT’s Moscow correspondernt and lickspittle for British regime change strategy,   reported:  “Mr Putin faces a multi-faceted crisis that has shaken his authority and the informal social contract that underpins his rule.” Kudrin, according to Foy, was the former finance minister who could be trusted to face the bad news: “[He] estimates that the crisis could see unemployment double to 10 per cent.” In last week’s strategy for Russia, Kudrin reported that between February and June, the growth of unemployment increased from 4.6% to 6.2% — less than half the US and British levels, 20% less  than the average for the European Union.  

On the Accounting Chamber website, Kudrin has been depicting himself at the commanding heights of the country with frequent press appearances, speeches, and reports on the state of  everything.

Source: https://ach.gov.ru/en  The English language site records Kudrin’s activities here.   The Russian language version of the site is more fulsome, promoting Kudrin in speeches to the State Duma as a combination of presidential and prime ministerial.

The release of the new 3-year strategy for Russia is the most ambitious of Kudrin’s political moves. Last week it was reported in detail, with commentary from institutional economists but no government sources.

Source: https://www.gazeta.ru/ 
“Benchmark from Kudrin: how Russia saved on the unemployed. For the first time, the accounts chamber has compiled its own macro forecast for the Russian economy.”

Source: https://vz.ru/ 
“What awaits Russians in a stressful scenario in the economy.  The Accounting Chamber under the leadership of Alexei Kudrin for the first time made its own forecast for the Russian economy.”

According to Dmitri Zaitsev, Kudrin’s subordinate in charge of compiling the new report, “we prepared the forecast in order to have our own benchmark, and thereby increase the evidence of the conclusions and system recommendations of the accounting chamber both on the quality and reliability of the forecast developed by the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia.

“It isn’t the economic forecasting that is newsworthy,” commented a Russian banking source. “There are dozens of these. It’s the political context in which this has been released that is novel. Kudrin is setting himself up at the same level as the economy ministries and the Prime Ministry.” So far Kudrin has not authorized publication of his strategy.

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