Russian finance minister Alexei Kudrin has resigned after a public dispute with President Dmitry Medvedev over his plans for the country's next government.
Vladimir Putin, currently prime minister, looks set to return as Russia's president next year after Medvedev proposed that his predecessor make another run for the country's top job. Putin, 58, and Medvedev, 46, are supporting each other to essentially switch roles in 2012.
Kudrin, who is internationally respected as a finance minister, said he would not serve in a new government if Medvedev and Putin swapped roles, because he could not work under Medvedev due to differences in budgetary policy, the BBC reports.
Medvedev rebuked him, saying his comments were "improper... and can in no way be justified." The president added that Kudrin should resign if he continued to disagree over economic policy, the BBC reports.
Kudrin stepped down later on Monday, and a Kremlin spokesperson said Medvedev had accepted his resignation.
According to the BBC, analysts say Kudrin had hoped to become prime minister himself.
Reuters said Western investors will view Kudrin's departure as a significant blow to Russia's economy.
"If, Alexei Leonidovich, you disagree with the course of the president, there is only one course of action and you know it: to resign ... Naturally, it's necessary to answer here and now: Will you write a resignation letter?" Reuters quotes Medvedev as saying.
"Such statements do not look decent and cannot in any way be justified," Russian news agencies quoted Medvedev as telling Kudrin, Agence France-Presse reports."No one canceled discipline and subordination in the government."