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Europe

Key figure at Russian oil giant resigns his post

Igor Sechin has resigned his post as board chairman of the Russian oil giant Rosneft. His resignation has fuelled speculation of political tension between President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin.

Rosneft sign reflecting the skyline of Moscow

Rosneft is Russia's largest oil company

The board chairman of Russia's largest oil company has resigned his post following a Kremlin directive ordering government officials to vacate the boards of state companies.

Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin's resignation from Rosneft, announced during a shareholder meeting Monday, comes as President Dmitry Medvedev seeks to separate politics from business as part of his pledge to modernize the Russian economy.

Politics of business

Sechin, considered a close ally of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, played a key role in striking a deal between Rosneft and the multinational oil giant BP.

Rosneft's tentative agreement with BP envisions an $18 billion (12 billion euro) share swap and cooperation in exploring oil reserves in the Arctic.

However, a court injunction - filed by BP's current Russian partner TNK-BP - has delayed the finalization of the Rosneft deal. TNK-BP claims BP had agreed to use it as the main vehicle for investment in Russia.

"Now that the Rosneft chairman has quit, it makes it even less likely that the deal will go through," Dougie Youngson, an oil analyst with Arbuthnot, told the news agency Reuters.

Sechin's resignation may signal growing political tension between Medvedev and Putin in the run-up to Russia's 2012 presidential election.

Although both Medvedev and Putin have hinted they might run for office, they have said they will not run against one another.

Author: Spencer Kimball (Reuters, AFP, dpa)
Editor: Michael Lawton

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