Delivering a rare critique of the political and economic system created by Mr Putin, Igor Yurgens accused the prime minister of abandoning reforms that he had embarked upon in 2000 at the outset of his presidency.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Mr Yurgens said Mr Putin had put power in the hands of a small ruling elite, creating an energy-dependent model that was beginning to creak as the financial crisis began to weaken Russia.

“The present system shows signs of overextension,” Mr Yurgens said. “It shows signs of over centralisation and fragility because it is based not on institutions but on the mythological vertical of power.