Exclusive: Radical economist emerges as leading Russian central bank contender

Thu Feb 21, 2013 9:19am EST
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By Darya Korsunskaya and Douglas Busvine

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A controversial economist and former presidential candidate who accuses the West of conspiring to turn Russia into an economic colony has emerged, sources said, as a leading contender to take charge at the country's central bank.

Sergei Glazyev, a Kremlin economic adviser, is being linked to the post a month before a deadline for his boss Vladimir Putin to nominate a successor to Sergei Ignatyev, who retires on June 23 after 11 years in the job.

Some insiders have been quick to write off Glazyev, who during his presidential run in 2004 lambasted Putin for running "a corrupt and irresponsible regime". Yet the speed with which Glazyev's star has risen since he endorsed the Russian leader's bid for a third Kremlin term a year ago has caught attention.

One high-ranking source in Moscow's liberal economic establishment said Glazyev is viewed favorably by both Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. A second source confirmed his status as a candidate and a third said he might get the job.

Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, declined to comment on the central bank succession. Glazyev, appointed by Putin last July to advise on regional economic integration, was not available to comment on Thursday, an aide said.

"Glazyev is under consideration because the others ... do not suit either Putin or Medvedev at all," the first source told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Economists still lean towards the view that Putin will plump for an insider, like Ignatyev's deputy Alexei Ulyukayev, to complete the central bank's shift to a policy framework based on Western-style inflation targeting.

"I would find it difficult to believe in a volte face," said Jacob Nell, a Russia economist at Morgan Stanley in Moscow. "It wouldn't be consistent with how Putin has behaved in the past on economic policy."   Continued...

A view of the Russian central bank at night in Moscow December 8, 2011. REUTERS/Denis Sinyakov