Putin Nominates Economic Aide as Head of Central Bank

Elvira Nabiullina file photo

MOSCOW, March 20 (RIA Novosti) ­ President Vladimir Putin has submitted to the State Duma the candidacy of his economic advisor, Elvira Nabiullina, for the head of Russia’s Central Bank, the Kremlin said on Wednesday.

Putin first proposed Nabiullina’s candidacy on March 12 at a meeting with incumbent Central Bank chief Sergei Ignatyev, who has served three successive terms and will step down in June.

Shortly after the announcement, Nabiullina proposed Ignatyev become her advisor.

If approved by parliament, Nabiullina, 49, will be appointed for a four-year term and will become the first woman to head a Group of Eight central bank.

The lower house of parliament, the State Duma, could consider Nabiullina’s candidacy for the head of Russia’s top bank on Friday, a source in the State Duma told RIA Novosti.

Nabiullina, part of the Kremlin team, is seen as a compromise figure in the struggle between the Central Bank’s efforts to conduct tight monetary policy to keep inflation under control and the government’s calls for monetary easing to spur the sluggish Russian economy, which demonstrated the weakest growth last year for the entire period of Putin’s reign, VTB bank head Andrei Kostin said in televised comments.

Her approval by parliament, where the pro-Kremlin United Russia party enjoys a majority, is expected to be a formality.

However, Russia’s Communist Party said earlier this month it would not support Nabiullina’s candidacy as she was likely to continue the policies of its current head, Ignatyev.

Russia’s Liberal Democratic Party leader, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, also said on Wednesday his party would not support her candidacy, criticizing Nabiullina’s offer to outgoing chairman Ignatyev to become her advisor. Zhirinovksy said his party disapproved of Ignatyev’s credit policies.

A Just Russia, a center-left party in the Russian lower house of parliament, has given a mixed response to Nabiullina’s candidacy, its leader Sergei Mironov said.

While some party members support her as a “worthy candidate,” others say Nabiullina is an advocate of liberal policies, and that Russia’s next central bank chief should be more conservative.