Government officials including Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, a close ally of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, will have to leave their posts as board chairmen of state companies, Presidential Economic Aide Arkady Dvorkovich said on Thursday.
On Wednesday, President Dmitry Medvedev suggested removing specialized government officials from boards of state companies which operate on competitive markets. The suggestion of Sechin's resignation from Russia's oil giant Rosneft may indicate division in Putin and Medvedev's power-sharing tandem on the issude, and a struggle for the presidency ahead of March 2012 elections.
"The issue is that in many cases board chairmen are first of all government chiefs, deputy prime ministers and ministers who are responsible for regulating such activities," Dvorkovich told a news conference.
He mentioned Russia's second largest bank VTB, where Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin is chairman of the Supervisory Council, and the country's flagship airline Aeroflot where Transport Minister Igor Levitin is board chairman. He is also chairs Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, Aeroflot's main hub.
First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov is supervisory board chairman at Russian Agricultural Bank.
"I know from my own experience of working on the board of directors that almost everything depends on who is the board chairman. Ninety percent of decisions are predetermined by the position of board chairman," Dvorkovich said.
Sechin, who has masterminded a now-frozen $16 billion share swap and shelf exploration deal between Rosneft and BP, is known as Russia's energy tsar as he is responsible the country's huge energy sector.
Sechin and Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko are also likely to resign as board directors of state-controlled power trader Inter RAO UES and hydro power generator RusHydro.
"RusHydro is a company acting in a competitive market, the same as Inter RAO," Dvorkovich said.
In a further sign that the Kremlin wants to ease the government's grip on the country's economy, Dvorkovich said that government orders on how to vote for state officials should be cancelled.
"Nobody has cancelled the institute of directives for the boards of directors' (meetings) yet. But there could be some changes. Together with experts, we are considering to what extent the institute of directives is suitable and corresponds to the current situation," Dvorkovich said.
He added that officials from the central bank should stay on the board of the country's largest bank Sberbank. Central Bank Chairman Sergei Ignatyev, First Deputy Central Bank Chairman Alexei Ulyukayev, First Deputy Central Bank Chairman Georgy Luntovsky and other central bank officials are present on Sberbank's supervisory board.
Medvedev has also said that the Kremlin should appoint investment envoys in regions to help investors solve their problems. Dvorkovich said the envoys would not increase the Kremlin staff, which is to be cut.
"An increase in the presidential administration's staff is not planned in connection with the introduction of investment envoys. On the contrary, all presidential aides have received instructions to present our suggestions to cut administration staff. This means the staff will decrease in the near future," he said.
MOSCOW, March 31 (RIA Novosti)