Vladimir Yakunin

Charles Clover

–Vladimir Yakunin speaking to Vladimir Putin (Getty)

For 33 minutes on Wednesday, it appeared that Vladimir Yakunin, the powerful head of Russia’s state railway corporation, and a close personal friend of president Vladimir Putin, was out of a job.

His resignation, apparently, had been demanded by prime minister Dmitry Medvedev, and all the signs indicated that a behind the scenes bureaucratic turf battle was underway – a number of Mr Medvedev’s associates have had their careers cut short recently by people from Yakunin’s hard-line faction, and this smacked of retribution. Read more