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Sechin to Get a New Gig?

sechin070908.jpgOr perhaps I should say Igor Sechin has just added another job to his long list of government portfolios and extremely profitable business perks. Today it was announced that the silovik grand wizard has been nominated to the board of electricity trader Inter RAO – which fulfills his longtime dream of getting his foot in the door of Russia’s electricity game. As many of you recall, Sechin was eagerly tossing monkey wrenches into the privatization process of UES, the country’s public utility, overseen by Anatoly Chubais, who surprisingly was successful in fending him off (very, very few people in Russian business can say something like that). After Rosneft failed in its lawsuit to block the reorganization of TGK-11, Sechin appears to have intelligently waited until the privatization was complete in order to get into Inter. As his oil company was previously a minority shareholder in TGK-11, Rosneft was particularly focused on controlling a subsidiary power generator TomskEnergo, which supplied a large number of the company’s oil operations in the region with its juice. Much like the government attack we saw on the mining and coal company Mechel, which Andrei Illarionov cites as the beginning of the Russian market crash, we can see that many high profile business disputes among Kremlin elites these days involve fights over the costs of industrial inputs for state-owned corporations. You’d think that Sechin would’ve been satisfied with the extra billions afforded to him by taking over the country’s shipyards (his prize for helping the succession go smoothly), but now he is gunning to have influence over nuclear power plants in Turkey via Inter RAO – yet another major point of leverage that can be turned to Rosneft’s advantage. Does everyone realize that this is the same guy who engineered the false imprisonment of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the state theft of Yukos, and now is the gun runner for Venezuela? This is not good news for Russia’s power sector, and it will be interesting (or not) to see how the board votes later this month.