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Bulldogs Under the Carpet

From Yulia Latynina in the Moscow Times, we are reminded of the bulldogs fighting under the carpet in the Kremlin – be it over billions stolen from Yukos, or the fresh kill of Russneft:

Moscow’s Tverskoi District Court, for example, froze the assets of oil company Russneft on Aug. 9. Why? Two people were trying to get hold of Russneft — Igor Sechin, deputy chief of the presidential administration and chairman of state-owned oil major Rosneft, and Oleg Deripaska, the Kremlin-friendly tycoon who heads the holding company Basic Element. With Putin’s blessing, Deripaska wants to buy Russneft. Deripaska would likely sell Russneft to the state later. So why arrest the shares? One reason may have been concern that, should either of the first deputy prime ministers, Dmitry Medvedev or Sergei Ivanov, become president, Deripaska might turn around and sell Russneft to a company controlled by Sechin. Preventing Deripaska from selling after the elections could diminish Sechin’s political clout. This analysis suggests that the battle for Russneft is not just commercial in nature: At stake is the political influence of people within Putin’s political circle — influence measured in the billions of dollars.