Medvedev Says Goodbye to Gazprom Board

President Dmitry Medvedev bade farewell to Gazprom's board of directors Tuesday, telling them that he intended to stay in close touch even after he is no longer the gas giant's chairman.

"We will be meeting and continue to communicate during working meetings," he told the Gazprom directors and management committee members in a speech before the company held its annual board meeting.

"Nothing is over; everything is just beginning," he said.

First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov is expected to succeed Medvedev, who is still officially the company chairman, next month.

The annual shareholders meeting, scheduled for June 27, is expected to approve Zubkov's candidacy, Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said. Medvedev currently is chairman in name only and was not scheduled to chair Tuesday's annual board meeting, Kupriyanov said.

Medvedev told the directors that his eight years as Gazprom chairman had seen the company transformed from a "half-reformed ministry" into a leading global company to be reckoned with and that operates "according to market rules."

In 2000, Medvedev, then 35, added the chairman's job to his existing responsibilities as a member of former President Vladimir Putin's administration.

"Together, we've managed to achieve the highest results," Medvedev told the meeting. "Very ambitious, serious tasks lie ahead," he added.

In a signal that a greater emphasis will be placed on energy's role in the country's economy, a stand-alone energy ministry was created when Putin named his Cabinet earlier this month. Analysts have said, however, that Medvedev and his mentor, Putin, will make all key energy decisions.

Speaking to reporters, CEO Alexei Miller said Gazprom would seek to become the world's "No. 1 company" but that the domestic market would remain its main priority. He said Europe would be the company's priority external market, Interfax reported.