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Strekalov to become acting Energia space corp. president -1

(Adds background, details in paras 2, 4-13)

MOSCOW, June 22 (RIA Novosti) - The first vice president of Russian space corporation Energia, Alexander Strekalov, will fulfill the duties of the corporation's president, who has been suspended, the board chairman said Friday.

The decision was made by the board of directors of state-controlled Energia, which designs Soyuz piloted spaceships and Progress carrier rockets, launches communications satellites, and operates the Russian segment of the International Space Station.

"In accordance with a government directive, [Nikolai] Sevastyanov's powers have been suspended and Alexander Strekalov has been vested with them," Nikolai Moiseyev told journalists.

The board chairman said that a shareholders' meeting had been scheduled for June 31 to vote on Sevastyanov's early removal.

Alexander Strekalov currently heads an experimental machine-building plant incorporated in Energia.

Moiseyev said that the board meeting had been initiated by the government, which controls 38% of Energia, and that nine board members out of 11, including six government officials, had backed Sevastyanov's suspension.

He specified that the decision resulted from a negative situation "that had developed in relations between Energia's leadership and some federal bodies, particularly the Federal Space Agency," a state regulator in the space industry.

According to Moiseyev, Sevastyanov is to blame for taking un-coordinated measures with regard to a number of projects, including international projects and manned flights.

The chairman said the company's president presented a program that was unrealistic in terms of Energia's resources and capacity, and that had not been coordinated with the federal program for developing Russia's space industry until 2015.

The Energia chief has been repeatedly criticized, primarily for his daring projects relating to lunar exploration, branded "lunacy" by the Space Agency, which moved to restrict his powers.

Board Chairman Moiseyev ruled out that the president's suspension could affect the schedule of spacecraft launches. When asked whether Energia's program to build the Klipper new-generation manned spacecraft would continue, he said: "The Clipper [program] will be maintained - the question is in what form."

A space industry source said earlier in the day that Yury Koptev, a former head of the Federal Space Agency and the current chief of the defense industry department at the Ministry of Industry and Energy, is believed to be the most likely permanent successor to Sevastyanov.

Shortly before the board meeting, Energia's management committee expressed their confidence in and support for Sevastyanov, and decided to apply to First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov to set up an interdepartmental commission to examine relations between the Space Agency and Energia, and the feasibility of Sevastyanov's dismissal.

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