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Mikhail Kasyanov
Mikhail Kasyanov par Claude Truong-Ngoc mars 2015.jpg
Kasyanov in 2015
Prime Minister of Russia
In office
7 May 2000 – 24 February 2004
(Acting until 17 May 2000)
President Vladimir Putin
Preceded by Vladimir Putin
Succeeded by Mikhail Fradkov
First Deputy Prime Minister of Russia
In office
10 January 2000 – 17 May 2000
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin
Preceded by Vladimir Putin
Succeeded by Dmitry Medvedev (2005)
Minister of Finance
In office
25 May 1999 – 18 May 2000
President Boris Yeltsin
Vladimir Putin (Acting)
Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin
Vladimir Putin
Himself (Acting)
Preceded by Mikhail Mikhailovich Zadornov
Succeeded by Alexei Kudrin
Personal details
Born (1957-12-08) 8 December 1957 (age 64)
Solntsevo (now Solntsevo District), Russian SFSR, USSR
Political party Independent
(2000–2006)
People's Democratic Union
(2006–2010)
People's Freedom Party "For Russia."
(2010–2012)
People's Freedom Party
(since 2012)
Spouse(s) Irina Kasyanova
Children Natalia
Alexandra
Occupation Politician, businessman

Mikhail Mikhailovich Kasyanov (Russian: Михаи́л Миха́йлович Касья́нов; IPA: [mʲɪxɐˈil mʲɪˈxajləvʲɪtɕ kɐˈsʲjanəf]; born 8 December 1957) is a Russian politician who served as Prime Minister of Russia from 2000 to 2004. Previously, he had served as First Deputy Prime Minister in 2000 and Minister of Finance from 1999 to 2000. During the 1990s, he worked in President Boris Yeltsin's administration in different positions before joining President Vladimir Putin's first administration. Since leaving the government over disagreements on economic policy, he has become one of the leading critics of President Putin and an opposition leader.

In 2008, Kasyanov was a candidate in the election of President of Russia but in the middle of the campaign was denied participation on political grounds. In 2010, he co-founded the coalition People's Freedom Party "For Russia without Lawlessness and Corruption" and became one of the leaders of the People's Freedom Party. He was an active speaker during the 2011–2013 Russian protests for fair elections. Since 2015, he has served as the leader of the political party People's Freedom Party (PARNAS). In 2005–2007, he was one of the leaders of the opposition coalition The Other Russia and democratic protest movement.

Early life

Kasyanov was born on 8 December 1957 in the settlement of Solntsevo near Moscow. His father was a teacher of mathematics and the headmaster of a local school. Joining the Red Army, his father participated in some major actions of the Second World War and fought until the victory in 1945. Kasyanov's mother was an economist, a head of a department of a governmental construction company (Glavmosstroy). In his childhood Mikhail studied at a music school and played the cello. In high school he played in a rock group. In 1974 Kasyanov entered the Moscow Automobile and Road Construction University. In 1976–1978, he served in the Soviet Army in the guard of honour at the Office of the Commandant of Moscow, which is today the Kremlin Regiment of the Federal Protective Service. From 1978–1981, he became a technician and then an engineer at the scientific institute of the State Committee for Construction of USSR. At the time he was still studying at the Moscow Automobile and Road Construction University. He finished in 1981. For nine years after graduation Kasyanov worked at the State Planning Committee (GosPlan) as an engineer, economist, leading specialist and chief of sector. In 1987 he was awarded the diploma of the Highest Economy Courses at GosPlan.

Career

Ministry of Economy (1990–1993)

In 1990–1993, Kasyanov was working in the State Committee of Economy of the Russian Federation and then in the Ministry of Economy. In 1993 the Minister of Finance Boris Fyodorov invited Kasyanov to join the Ministry. He was appointed the head of Foreign Loans and External Debt Department.

Ministry then Minister of Finance (1995–1999)

In 1995 Kasyanov became the deputy Minister of Finance.

In 1994–1996, Kasyanov was occupied with the restructuring of Soviet externals debts (about $150 bn). In 1996 Kasyanov reached an agreement with the Paris Club and the London Club of creditors for a comprehensive restructuring of Soviet debts for a period of 25 years with a 7-year grace period. Thanks to this agreement Russia was able to gain access to international capital markets. In 1996 Kasyanov gave the road show of Russia's economy development prospects at various International finance centers. As a result, Russia, for the first time since 1913 issued securities, eurobonds on the capital markets of Europe and the United States, and Russian banks and companies were able to take cheap foreign capital for investments into the economy of the country.

In 1998, the global financial crisis started and the Russian government defaulted on its debts, ruble was dramatically devaluated. Kasyanov was the head of the working team for restructuring Russian government external debts and of the private banks of the country. At the same time he negotiated with Russian creditors for restructuring domestic debts. Kasyanov negotiated with the International Monetary Fund which granted favorable perspectives for reaching profitable agreements for Russia. As a result of this, the ruble rate was stabilised, which in its own turn helped reduce the inflation and restored production and services parts of Russian economy. These successes proved Kasyanov to be a good negotiator: he was called "the principal financial diplomat of the country".

Minister of Finance (1999–2000)

In February 1999 he was appointed First Deputy Minister and in May 1999 President Yeltsin appointed Kasyanov Minister of Finance of the Russian Federation.

In June 1999, Minister Kasyanov became a member of the Security Council of Russia.

Kasyanov was occupied with the problem of budget deficit and external debt. His time as Finance Minister saw Russia's first non-deficit budget. In July Russia received the first post-crisis loan from the IMF.

The government of Sergei Stepashin worked for three months; however, Kasyanov retained his post in the new government of Vladimir Putin. He continued the negotiations with international creditors on a global restructuring of the USSR's debts.

The war in Chechnya provoked the suspension of the negotiations with the London club of creditors. Nevertheless, Kasyanov was able to resolve the principal problems of Russian debts in a span of several months. This fact facilitated the transition towards economic growth in Russia. As a result of non-deficit budget and prudent financial policy in general the multi-month delays in salary payments and pensions were overcome. On 10 January 2000 Kasyanov was appointed the first Vice Premier of the Russian government. The situation was such that effectively Kasyanov was in charge of the government, serving as its chairman, as Putin was the Acting President at the time. He was still the head of the Ministry of Finance.

Prime Minister (2000–2004)

On 17 May 2000, Russian State Duma approved Mikhail Kasyanov's Prime Minister candidacy. The Chairman of the Cabinet started pursuing the policy of active collaboration with business community and civil society.

Vladimir Putin 12 October 2000-3
Kasyanov with Vladimir Putin, 2000

During its four-year term Kasyanov's Cabinet launched a number of structural reforms – tax and budget reform, liberalization of capital control and external trade, customs reform, reorganization of national infrastructure, pension reform, creation of land market and others. Successful implementation of systemic transformation measures led Russia to a trajectory of sustainable economic growth. Inflation was reduced significantly, the economy and people's income grew by one third while oil prices were at the level of $20–25 per barrel.

Experts think that the tax reform of 2000-2002 was one of the most successful reforms of Kasyanov's Cabinet. A flat income tax rate (13%) was introduced. All turnover taxes were eliminated. VAT was reduced to 18% and social taxes — to 26%. These measures together with the policy of strong fiscal discipline significantly increased budget revenue.

In addition to this in 2003 Kasyanov's Cabinet reformed the taxation of petroleum sector and established a special Stabilization fund. As a result, the budget revenue stream from this sector has increased and the Stabilization Fund has started accumulating significant amounts of foreign exchange, creating a financial airbag for the country. It was a time of an overall financial liberalization.

An important achievement of Kasyanov's Cabinet was the successful implementation of the small business encouragement policy. Introduction of simplified taxation system, easy state registration of businesses and ban on frequent inspections by state agencies were among those measures.

It was during Mikhail Kasyanov's time as Russian Prime Minister that the transfer of agricultural lands to private property began. Additionally to that credit support mechanism for agricultural production was introduced and Russia very rapidly again became one of the leading exporters of grain after decades of huge annual import of wheat.

Kasyanov was dismissed, along with the entire Russian cabinet, by President Vladimir Putin on 24 February 2004 after more than three years in office, two weeks before the 2004 Russian presidential election on 14 March. There were disagreements between Kasyanov and Putin on matters of policy. The President stated on national television "This decision bears no relation to any assessment of the performance of the former composition of the government. It was dictated by my desire to once again delineate my position on the issue of what development course the country will take after March 14, 2004."

After leaving the government (2004–2008)

On the first anniversary of his dismissal (24 February 2005) Kasyanov gave a press conference at which he said that he might run for president in the 2008 elections. His bid was supported by Leonid Nevzlin, Boris Berezovsky and Garry Kasparov.

In April 2006, Mikhail Kasyanov was elected Chairman of the People's Democratic Union (PDU), a newly launched NGO. PDU was one of the co-founders of the first "The Other Russia" conference in July 2006 and of "The Other Russia" coalition that was set up at the conference. Kasyanov and the PDU were actively involved in the coalition's work and took part in the Dissenters' Marches in Moscow and St. Petersburg – the first protest manifestations in many years. On 3 March 2007, Kasparov and Kasyanov spoke against Putin's government to thousands of supporters at the Saint Petersburg Dissenters' March.

At a presentation in International Institute for Strategic Studies 26 June 2006, Kasyanov criticized Putin's administration. He said: "Separation of powers has been effectively demolished and replaced by the so-called ‘Vertical of Power' which is based on the false idea that all the meaningful social and political processes must be kept under control by the state. The government and parliament cannot function any longer without daily instructions. The judiciary is increasingly servile. Independent TV does not exist any more at the federal level and is being quickly uprooted in the regions. Moreover, the state-owned companies and the state itself increase their grip over the electronic and printed media. Responsibility of the regional level of power is totally destroyed by the abolishment of direct elections for the governors."

PDU had regional branches in 75 regions of Russia. In June 2007 Kasyanov was nominated by the PDU as a candidate for the presidential elections. In September 2007 the new political party People for Democracy and Justice (ru:Народ за демократию и справедливость) was established on the basis of the PDU, and Kasyanov was elected its chairman.

Fraud accusations and court case (2005–2007)

Allegations that Kasyanov took a two percent commission in exchange for ignoring bribes and illegal business ventures whilst he was working at the Ministry of Finance between 1993 and 1999 were made in the state-controlled Russian media which branded him as "Misha 2 percent". In an article by Peter J. Stavrakis entitled "Russia's evolution as a predatory state" (part of a compilation entitled "Russia's uncertain economic future", written for the United States Congressional Joint Economic Committee), the allegations are described as credible. A Spiegel article from 2007 notes that Kasyanov insists that his only earnings as a public servant was his government salary and he was only involved in private business venture for "one year" since leaving the post of prime minister. The same article also claims that Kasyanov purchased the state-owned dacha of former Communist Party of the Soviet Union ideologue Mikhail Suslov which was worth several million euros.

On 11 July 2005, the Russian Office of Public Prosecutor started to investigate the privatization of two houses formerly owned by the government. According to allegations first made by the journalist and State Duma member Alexander Khinshtein, two luxury government houses had been put up for sale in 2003 by a Kasyanov decree. According to the court verdict of 16 March 2007, he was to return a house and pay 108,135,000 rubles in damages to the government for using the property illegally (approx. USD 4,150,000 or €3,130,000). In 2007, Kasyanov was still planning to appeal.

2008 presidential candidacy

Kasyanov 2009
Kasyanov at an opposition meeting

In 2006, Kasyanov declared that he desired to establish a new political party and run for president in 2008.

Kasyanov left the opposition group The Other Russia in July 2007 due to the group's failure to agree on a single presidential candidate.

Kasyanov established the Russian Popular Democratic Union party. However, the Federal Registration Service blocked the party from participating in the 2007 legislative election.

It was not known whether Kasyanov would continue his candidacy after Garry Kasparov entered the race, but on 8 December 2007 he reaffirmed he would run in the election. That day Russian Popular Democratic Union Party nominated Kasyanov as their presidential candidate.

On 16 January 2008, he announced that he had finished collecting the 2 million signatures necessary to run as a candidate. Later that month, however, the Central Election Commission rejected his candidacy on the grounds that 13.36% of the signatures were invalid. and he was disqualified. Kasyanov appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which rejected the appeal on 6 February 2008.

Kasyanov claimed that the decision to prevent his candidacy was taken by Putin himself, who he claimed was afraid that, in a fair election, Dmitry Medvedev might lose.

Kasyanov described the election as a farce and called for a boycott.

Author: "Without Putin" (2009)

The presentation of Kasyanov's book Without Putin in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on 18 December 2009 was cancelled merely minutes before its planned opening. Kasyanov's press secretary claimed that the electricity went out in the Premier Palace Hotel on Taras Shevchenko Boulevard [uk] minutes before the presentation was to start and that some 20 young men had blocked the entrance to the hotel to keep attendees from entering.

Kadyrov's threats against Kasyanov (2016)

In February 2016, Kasyanov's image was posted online by Ramzan Kadyrov on his social media account, with Kasyanov being in cross hairs of a sniper rifle. This was seen as a threat against Kasyanov. On 10 February, Kasyanov was attacked in a Moscow restaurant by a dozen men who yelled death threats at him.

Defection over Ukraine (2022)

In May 2022, Kasyanov participated in the 8th "Russia Forum" in Vilnius, together with Khodorkovsky, the Russian oil oligarch and former head of Russian oil and gas giant Yukos, the head of the US-thinktank Freedom House, the head of the US-government funded broadcaster Radio Free Europe and others. The aim of the "anti-Putin summit" was to develop a strategy on how to "de-Putinise" Russia and "slay the Russian bear", meaning Vladimir Putin.

In June 2022, Kasyanov told Agence France-Presse that he had temporarily left Russia, without providing additional details.

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