‘I turned Vladimir Putin down 15 years ago – he hasn’t spoken to me since’

A former key ally of Russia's grudge-holding president Vladimir Putin has told how the 71-year-old hasn't spoken to him since he rejected a job offer 15 years ago.

Sergey Yastrzhembsky was the spokesman for both Boris Yeltsin and later Putin, and was later the head of Vlad's Information Police Department at the Kremlin. He went on to become the presidential special envoy to the European Union in Brussels, but later resigned in around 2009.

He was offered another job by Putin, but turned it down . . . and now claims that he hasn't been spoken to by Putin since, despite spending almost 20 year working for the Kremlin in some form. Speaking to Kremlin-backed Russian news outlet Moskovskij Komsomolets, he has now detailed a spiteful Putin's reaction to the moment he turned him down.

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He said: “Vladimir Vladimirovich really invited me to work with him in the government, but I wanted to break free . . .so I thanked him for the invitation, but insisted on leaving. He reacted with obvious displeasure, but wished me luck, and since then we haven't seen or spoken to each other again.

“Believe it or not, but I gave 1000%: it was my decision. I promised my then wife that after two terms of President Putin, I would leave the civil service and we would go to Italy. As a man, I kept my word.”

Yastrzhembsky hit out at those who call him “unpatriotic” for leaving – a term used by MK itself, which only puts out lines approved by the Kremlin. The ex-spokesman went on to state that he “doesn't owe anyone anything”, and has no regrets about leaving politics.

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He did, however, admit that he does have negative feelings about some of those he used to work with – but didn't mention names. He said, in what could be seen as a further explanation of why he turned Putin down, “I can’t say that I have a rosy-fluffy attitude towards people. No, I have my own gallery of negative heroes.

“After 30 years of civil service, it would be strange if it did not exist, but I keep this gallery to myself and so I try to surround myself with people who are pleasant to me, and I try to remove those in whom negativity dominates from my life.”

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