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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kasyanov Aide Seeks Greener Pastures

Mikhail Delyagin, economic aide to Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and an outspoken critic of the government's bid for accession to the World Trade Organization, quit the government Monday for academia.

The decision was by no means political, Delyagin said in a telephone interview.

Kasyanov's selection of Delyagin, 35, as his adviser on macroeconomics and natural monopolies in March 2002 came as a surprise to many. Delyagin had developed a reputation as a doomsayer, a protectionist and a staunch critic of the government's reform efforts, referring to 2001 as "the year in which hopes were crushed."

Delyagin's economic views contradicted those of liberal presidential adviser Andrei Illarionov and Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref on many issues, including WTO accession, energy tariffs and debt repayment.

Observers and local media speculated that this opposition may have been precisely the reason Kasyanov hired Delyagin.

"The government declares its commitment to market liberalism, but Delyagin is your classical Keynesian," said Boris Kagarlitsky, who replaced Delyagin as the director of the Institute of Globalization Problems when he left for the government last year.

"It is not strange that he is leaving the government. What is strange is that he managed to stay there for such a long period of time," Kagarlitsky said.

It was not Delyagin's first foray among the ruling elite. Previously, he served as an adviser to then-President Boris Yeltsin and then-deputy prime ministers Anatoly Kulikov and Boris Nemtsov. Following the financial crisis of August 1998, he advised then-First Deputy Prime Minister Yury Maslyukov, a Communist.

Kommersant suggested Monday that Delyagin was leaving the government to head an "independent research center sponsored by Roman Abramovich and Oleg Deripaska."

Delyagin denied this.

"I have been dreaming for something like this to happen, but apparently the oligarchs forgot to tell me," he joked. "The only thing that is true in this article is that I am indeed quitting my job."

Delyagin, who holds a doctoral degree in economics, said his main goal is a return to academia. "Unfortunately it is impossible to combine my current responsibilities as an adviser with serious academic work," he said.

His official position made it difficult for him to state his personal views publicly. "For someone as outspoken as Delyagin this was a tragedy," Kagarlitsky said.

Delyagin, who was still at his post Monday, plans to return to the Institute of Globalization Problems, which he ran prior to his appointment as Kasyanov's adviser and where he is currently the chairman of the board, in order to concentrate on research.

"He is officially returning to the institute. Tomorrow I am going to take care of all the paperwork," Kagarlitsky said.