Arkady Volsky, a prominent Russian business leader and public figure died after an illness Saturday at age 74, his colleague said.
Volsky, who founded and for 15 years headed the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, the country's biggest business lobby, passed away from a "severe and long-lasting disease," the union's current head Alexander Shokhin said on Ekho Mosvky radio.
NTV television reported Volsky died from leukemia.
"Volsky's death is a big loss not only for (the Union), but for the entire business and political community of the country," Shokhin said.
Born in 1932 in then-Soviet Belarus, he rose to senior posts in the Communist government, notably serving as a senior aide to former Soviet leader Yuri Andropov.
Following the 1991 Soviet collapse, he turned into the country's biggest business lobbyist and also actively participated in crisis negotiations in bloody regional conflicts including Chechnya and the Nagorno-Karabakh war between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Volsky also was also a rare critic of the politically charged jailing of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who last year was sentenced to eight years in a Siberian penal colony on charges of fraud and tax evasion, and the ensuing partial renationalization of his Yukos oil company.
Last September Volsky was replaced with Shokhin, a more Kremlin-friendly figure, in what many interpreted as punishment for his protest.
Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his condolences to Volsky's family and friends, a Kremlin spokeswoman told The Associated Press.
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