Controversial 1990s Russian reformer hospitalized – media
Multiple sources have reported that former Kremlin Chief-of-Staff Anatoly Chubais has been taken to hospital in Italy. He was one of the longest serving senior Russian officials before he resigned in March.
Chubais, a driving force behind Russian reforms and privatizations in the 1990s, reportedly developed a serious health issue last week. The news was first broken by Russian socialite, journalist and ex-presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak, who is a family friend.
He was diagnosed with Guillain–Barre syndrome, a rare neurological condition, Sobchak wrote on social media on Sunday, adding that he was in stable but moderately serious condition in an intensive care unit.
The 67-year-old is being treated at a hospital in the city of Olbia on the island of Sardinia, the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera said on Monday. He may have been on a vacation at the popular tourist destination when he fell ill, the publication said.
Reuters cited its own sources as confirming Chubais’ health problems. It also said a European intelligence agency was “looking into the case,” which some political commentators and media outlets, like the Daily Mail in the UK, speculated may be caused by poisoning. One source cited by the agency said they did not believe foul play had been involved.
The Kremlin commented on the reports by expressing sympathy for Chubais and pledging Russia's help, should he need it.
“I am not aware of any requests for assistance,” Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for the Russian president’s office, told the media. “The news is definitely sad and we wish him a swift recovery.”
Chubais is best known for his role in the government of President Boris Yeltsin, whom he helped usher in radical US-advised post-Soviet market reforms in the early 1990s. They concentrated state-owned property in the hands of a relatively small group of new business elites, but it came at the cost of the impoverishment and disaffection of many ordinary Russians.
He kept a place in the Russian government in the post-Yeltsin era, holding several senior positions under Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev. Chubais was considered a champion of big business and liberal political circles in Russia.
He resigned in late March in what many observers took as a protest against Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine, which became the trigger point for an ongoing diplomatic and trade breakup between Russia and the West.