A top Putin adviser of classical liberal sympathies, Andrei N. Illarionov, is relieved of his duties as Russian envoy to the Group of Eight meetings; this after some public criticisms on Illarionov's part of some of Putin's actions and policy. From the New York Times report:
Mr. Illarionov described the government as both arbitrary and wrong-headed, criticizing the Kremlin's crackdown on the news media, its expropriation of the main asset of Yukos, the oil giant, its centralization of political power and its foreign relations.
His assessments were unsparing. He called the seizure last month of the Yukos unit "the swindle of the year."
In the government's attack on a healthy company, and its signals about which companies were Kremlin favorites, Mr. Illarionov said, "financial flows are rerouted from the most effective companies to the least effective ones."
Moreover, Mr. Putin's decision to do away with elections for governors throughout Russia, and to appoint governors through the presidency, Mr. Illarionov said, ensured that political competition was undermined, to ill effect. "Limited competition in all spheres of life leads to one thing," he said. "To stagnation."
Illiarionov collaborated with the Cato Institute on a conference on "The Liberal Agenda for a New Century," involving a meeting between Putin and various libertarian scholars; Cato's Tom Palmer comments on the development here.