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Chubais and Kudrin Warn the Hawks

In a rare disagreement with the president, two liberal members of the Russian government issued warnings to the hawks that Russia’s hard line foreign policy could damage foreign investment and business. In an article running in tomorrow’s FT, Anatoly Chubais said “Maybe we should ask ourselves a simple question: How much does our external policy cost Russia? We might be able to pay the price in a good world economic situation, but can we continue to pay the price now? (…) We can continue to persecute the British Council and demand the closure of its branch in St Petersburg. But we cannot make peace with this.” Alexei Kudrin also made some reasonable points: “Our dependence on global economic ties, on our exports, is felt so strongly that in the nearest future we need to adjust our foreign policy goals to guarantee stable investment.” I am always caught off guard when Russian officials make this much sense – just as I was when Dmitri Medvedev boldly stated that “Without exaggeration, Russia is a country of legal nihilism. No European country can boast of such disregard for law.” I couldn’t agree more.