'For macroeconomic stability, you need political credibility... that's exactly what the general election should bring'
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Sergei Guriev, a top Russian economist, was rector of Moscow's New Economic School until he resigned on April 30, 2013 and moved to France. He advised various Russian government economic bodies and is associated closely with Russia's economic transformation over 20 years. After his critical report on the "Second Yukos Case", co-written with other members of the expert council that looked into the Mikhail Khodorkovsky trial, Guriev was subjected to an investigation. He is currently with SciencesPo, Paris. In Delhi last week on a lecture trip, he talked to Sudeep Paul:
Q: You've been making news headlines. How big is the loss of Sergei Guriev for Russia?
A: Ha. Ha. This is not a question for me. For me, this was indeed a big story because I had to move and give up what I'd been doing for many years. I feel very bad I didn't deliver on my explicit and implicit promises to colleagues and partners. That of course is very sad. As for the story that Russia has suffered a loss, my replacement, Simeon Djankov, is very impressive -- an outstanding academic economist, an amazing career at the World Bank, a former Bulgarian finance and deputy prime minister.So the School is very fortunate, and I am very proud that he has agreed to take over.
As for intellectual life in Russia, I think my story is very painful. This is a signal it may happen to anybody. I wasn't a member of the ruling party or government. And yet a lot people would tell me they didn't expect something like this could happen to me. As all this was happening, I was told I should talk to Russia's leading politicians. I did so, but my problems did not stop. Which means it was a conscious decision by the Russian leadership -- to send a signal that people who speak against the government shouldn't expect to be safe. And this is a very bad signal. Every government needs free debate, feedback. Without this debate Russia can only fall back on the Soviet Union's track.
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