Liberal Emigration Wave: Why Sergei Guriyev May Leave Russia

May 29, 2013
Sergei Guriyev. Source: Forbes Russian

Sergei Guriyev, dean of the Russian Economic School, has resigned of his own accord from the supervisory board of Sberbank and has written a request not to include him as a candidate in the voting list at the annual meeting of the bank’s shareholders. Sberbank announced this 28 May, adding that Guriyev explained his wish was “due to personal circumstances”. Guriyev told Forbes that the decision was linked to his personal circumstances unrelated to Sberbank.

“The decision not to run for the new slate of the supervisory board was not one I took under pressure; none of the directors of Sberbank told me to my face, or, as far as I know, said behind my back, that I should not run,” said Guriyev.

A colleague of Guriyev’s on the board of directors of the Agency for Housing Mortgage Lending (AHML), which Guriyev left in November also of his own accord was surprised at Guriyev’s decision. According to the source, Guriyev left AHML in order to have more time for work on the Sberbank supervisory board.

Guriyev also heads the board of directors of the Russian Venture Company (RVC). Igor Agarmizyan, general director of RVC, could not explain whether Guriyev intends to run for the next term, although he noted that at the present time the annual election to the board  is under way, and Rosimushchestva [State Property Agency] is authorized to run candidates for the board. Guriyev told Forbes that he would not put in his nomination for the board of RVC “for the same reasons as for the supervisory board of Sberbank.”

Alexey Savatyugin, former deputy minister of finance wrote on his Twitter account on 20 May: “Hurry to buy Guriyev’s books while they are for sale…” Meanwhile, two acquaintances of Guriyev’s who learned of his resignation from Sberbank’s supervisory board recalled that the famous economist’s family live in France and suggested that likely he intends to leave Russia. Guriyev himself did not reply to a direct question from Forbes about whether he planned to leave Russia.

Late Tuesday, Interfax cited a source that said Guriyev had also submitted his resignation to the post of dean of the Russian Economic School as well.

Recently, Sergei Guriyev has experienced a certain amount of  pressure from the authorities. A government official confirmed that in early 2013, Guriyev was invited for a talk with law-enforcement agencies in the so-called Experts’ Case. As The New Times wrote, investigators were interested in the work of Russian experts who took part in the public review of the second criminal case of Mikhail Khodorkovsky (the experts doubted the legitimacy of the sentence). An acquaintance of Guriyev’s told Forbes that the investigators were interested in the conditions of the work of the experts, their connection to the Higher School of Economics and the Russian Economic School (RES). Simultaneously, tax officials conducted an inspection of the RES, which turned “into a frightening picture overall,” said the source. Guriyev said that no charges were filed against him at all, and refrained from further commentary, citing his signature on a non-disclosure statement.

Guriyev is currently on vacation abroad.

Guriyev is known for his sympathies to the liberal opposition; he is friendly with Alexey Navalny. Upon learning of Guriyev’s resignation, a source in the leadership of the Coordinating Council of the opposition recalled [author] Boris Akunin’s appeal at the last rally on Bolotnaya Square: he asked people with good reputations to refrain from cooperation with the current government.

Igor Fedyukin, deputy minister of education(in the past, director of RES’s applied research) also submitted his resignation from his post as well. Fedyukin had been appointed deputy minister in June 2012. At the ministry he was responsible in particular for the system of government accreditation of scientific and science educational personnel and the work of the Superior Attestation Committee.

“I hope that my departure will at least in part reduce the unprecedented tension, growing with each day, which has now formed around the decisions taken by the ministry,” Fedyukin told RIA Novosti.

On 28 May, Izvestiya cited a source in the ministry that Fedyukin was dismissed and received the notice of his firing the next week. “The publication does not correspond to reality from start to finish,” he said the same day. He emphasized that at the present time, an information campaign is underway against the ministry because after the ministry uncovered a number of cases of plagiarism and fraud in the dissertations of highly-placed officials and politicians.