Kasyanov wants to see Russia advance 'as a modern, civilised country' (photo: dpa)

Russia presidential election: Mikhail Kasyanov - a front runner who has chosen to bide his time

Mikhail Kasyanov is eager to keep the liberal idea alive in Russia. He has publicly denounced Vladimir Putin and joined the crowds protesting against the alleged vote rigging in the December 2011 Duma elections. Day 7 of GIS’s Russia presidential election mini series looks at former Prime Minister Kasyanov who would have been certain competition for Mr Putin’s goal of the presidential seat had he chosen to run.

MIKHAIL Kasyanov rose to power under Boris Yeltsin (Russia’s president from 1991 to 1999), whom he served in various government positions.

He also earned the epithet of ‘Misha two-per cent,’ for allegedly having demanded a two per cent kickback on all deals that passed his desk

In 1999, he was appointed Minister of Finance.

Liberal image

In contrast to his liberal image, he also earned the epithet of ‘Misha two-per cent,’ for allegedly having demanded a two per cent kickback on all deals that passed his desk. Following the accession to power of Vladimir Putin, he was promoted to Prime Minister, a post he held until February 2004.

During his time as head of government, he oversaw the economic reforms that marked the first term of the Putin presidency. He was also the last to defend imprisoned oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky from within the elite, and to speak up against the Kremlin’s gradual destruction of Yukos Oil, the country’s flagship oil company.

Following his dismissal, Mr Kasyanov became one of the most outspoken members of the opposition. He accused Mr Putin of trampling democracy and of mismanaging the economy.

Dismissal anniversary

In 2005, he marked the anniversary of his dismissal by stating he would run for president in the 2008 election. Despite claiming to have gathered the required two million signatures, his candidacy was rejected by the Central Electoral Commission.

Clearly heartened by the wave of protest that followed against alleged falsification of the December, 2011, Duma election, Mr Kasyanov has turned up his rhetoric.

He has claimed that Mr Putin is out of touch and running scared. In an honest presidential election, he or one of his fellow liberals would emerge as the winner in a second round of voting.

But given the alleged certainty of vote rigging, Mr Kasyanov did not even attempt to register as a candidate.

Closely watched

He predicts that his time will come after the March, 2012, election, when truly massive protests will follow and dangerous calls for revolution may emerge.

During the run-up to the election, he will be closely watched by the Kremlin.

Mikhail Kasyanov

  • Age: 54. Born: Moscow
  • Qualified civil engineer. Later he also studied world trade and finance. Speaks fluent English
  • 1982-1989 worked as economist at the State Planning Committee which launched his career in the field of international economic relations
  • 1993 Head of Foreign Credits and External Debt at the Russian Ministry of Finance
  • 1995 - 1999 Deputy Finance Minister - Russia's chief negotiator on the restructuring of Soviet era external debt
  • 1999 Minister of Finance and in January 2000 became First Deputy Prime Minister – also kept position of Minister of Finance
  • May 2000 – 2004 made Prime Minister of Russia after Vladimir Putin won the 2000 presidential election
  • Feb 2004 Mr Kasyanov and his entire cabinet dismissed by President Putin following disagreements on gas sector reform, Yukos and business suppression, relations with Ukraine and Belarus
  • 2005 Mr Kasyanov started to publicly criticise Russian authorities for their anti-democratic drift
  • 2006 elected leader of newly formed People’s Democratic Union (PDU)
  • 2007 nominated as PDU candidate for 2008 presidential election – but was disqualified on what he claims was a 'trumped-up technicality'
  • 2010 founder member of People’s Freedom Party
  • Kasyanov states on his website: ‘My objective is to see Russia advancing as a modern, civilized country’
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