The much maligned former head of RAO UES Anatoly Chubais, who played up the role of democrat under President Yeltsin and morphed into a leading government figure under President Putin, before accepting a cushy position as head of Rusnano, a state corporation tasked with investing in nanotechnologies, appears to be hedging his bets.
In an interview with Itogi magazine in October 2012, Chubais said that the protest movement, which erupted after the falsified parliamentary elections in December 2011, only to go to ground after the presidential elections, was not dead and that on the contrary it was merely slumbering and would rise with new strength, with future protest meetings attracting up to half a million people. He also intimated that demand for political transformation and the reaction of the powers that be would play a decisive role in Russia’s future development, adding that a middle class has been formed in Moscow, St Petersburg and Ekaterinburg, but lacks clear leaders.
Chubais did not go any further, so he is clearly hedging his bets. He has in the past harboured political ambitions, leading as he did the United of Rightist Forces in the 1990s until 2003, before focusing on completion of the reforms at the electrical power monopoly RAO UES until 2008, whereupon he was appointed to Rusnano.
If he still harbours political ambitions, then he would clearly love to lead such a protest movement of a burgeoning middle class and might well understand their concerns and demands. However, he would clearly have to demonstrate independence from the powers that be and criticise the Kremlin.
It remains to be seen whether Chubais is ready to make such a break.