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Russia's Kudrin May Get Top Audit Chamber Post

Aleksei Kudrin helped stabilize Russia's finances and attract investors as finance minister in 2000-08.
Aleksei Kudrin helped stabilize Russia's finances and attract investors as finance minister in 2000-08.

Longtime former Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin may soon become the head of Russia's Audit Chamber, bringing him closer to President Vladimir Putin's government after years without a state position.

Kudrin said on May 14 that he had accepted the ruling United Russia party's nomination for the post of chairman of the chamber, an oversight agency that monitors the spending of government funding.

"I have thanked the United Russia faction for nominating me to the post and given my consent to try my chances at becoming the chairman of the Audit Chamber," Kudrin said.

"The fight against corruption should be focused not only on catching criminals red-handed but most of all in creating the mechanisms to prevent corruption, to reduce the opportunities for it to a minimum," he said in a website statement.

The appointment would put Kudrin, now CEO of the Center for Strategic Research think tank, inside the government apparatus.

But it indicated he would not get the job that he had been rumored to be considered for in the new term that Putin started on May 7 -- a top Kremlin economic-policy position that would have given him clout to shape planning and seek to bolster growth.

Kudrin helped stabilize Russia's finances and attract investors as finance minister during Putin's first two terms, in 2000-08. He quit in 2011 amid a spat with then-President Dmitry Medvedev, who has been prime minister since Putin returned to the Kremlin in 2012. Although he often makes statements critical of the government, Kudrin is believed to be on close terms with Putin.

Russia's economy emerged from two years of recession in 2017 but fell short of Putin's target of 2 percent expansion and continues to struggle for stronger growth. Putin has set the ambitious goal of making Russia one of the world's five biggest economies by 2024 -- up from 12th last year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

According to the constitution, the lower chamber of the Russian parliament, the State Duma, must propose three candidates for the Audit Chamber post. The United Russia faction in the Duma is to formally propose Kudrin's nomination on May 15, and the final decision is up to Putin.

With reporting by Bloomberg, Interfax, and Vedomosti
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