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    Britain warns TNK-BP chief's exit will harm Russia

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    The British Foreign Office warned on Friday that the departure from Russia of the head of Russian-British oil venture TNK-BP will have a negative impact on the Russian economy.

    LONDON, July 25 (RIA Novosti) - The British Foreign Office warned on Friday that the departure from Russia of the head of Russian-British oil venture TNK-BP will have a negative impact on the Russian economy.

    The company, half owned by British oil major BP, said on Thursday that Robert Dudley would temporarily leave Russia to run TNK-BP from abroad. BP blamed a campaign of harassment by Russian shareholders in the country's third largest oil producer.

    A Foreign Office spokeswoman told RIA Novosti: «TNK-BP is a major productive global energy producer at time when experienced energy professionals and energy itself are both in short supply. The departure of Robert Dudley and others, and the consequent effect on TNK-BP's output can therefore only be bad news for both the Russian economy and the global energy industry as a whole.»

    «The way shareholders have manipulated elements of the Russian state bureaucracy and the way this has been allowed to continue is very disappointing,» she said.

    The BP-appointed U.S. executive, who has been accused by a consortium of Russian shareholders of acting only in BP's interests, said he was leaving due to the failure of the Russian authorities to renew his visa.

    «In the light of the uncertainties surrounding the status of my work visa and the sustained harassment of the company and myself I have decided to leave and to work outside Russia temporarily,» Dudley said in a statement.

    A Russian government official earlier told RIA Novosti that Dudley's departure would help resolve the long-running conflict in the company.

    The official, who asked to remain anonymous, also denied that the government had a role in the conflict between the British oil giant and its Russian billionaire partners, who have demanded Robert Dudley's dismissal over management and strategy.

    «Dudley's decision was hardly spontaneous,» the government official said. «He was unlikely to have made it on his own. This means Dudley's departure was a joint decision by shareholders... It can be treated as a step toward resolving the conflict.»

    The Russian official said the government had not changed its position of noninterference in the dispute, but admitted the Russian shareholders could have used some administrative resources.

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