Ministers Tussle Over Russian Technologies

The government is refusing to set a deadline for approving the final makeup of Sergei Chemezov's Russian Technologies, as it seeks urgently to iron out disagreements between ministers over the state corporation's future.

"We are speaking about regular discussions taking place in the government on a daily basis to settle the makeup of Russian Technologies," White House spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday.

At present, however, the final destiny of Russian Technologies is proving a bone of contention between various ministries, with Alexei Kudrin's Finance Ministry leading the critics, Peskov said.

"At end of the day, though, the decision on the formation of Russian Technologies will be taken by the whole government in the best interest of the actors involved," Peskov said.

Currently a draft decree envisions handing over stakes in 458 firms to the state corporation, including 100 percent stakes in 191 companies. Of the 458 companies, 118 are not connected with the military-industrial complex, Vedomosti reported Wednesday. The draft decree includes stakes in truck maker KamAZ and Mongolian copper miner Erdenet, Vedomosti reported.

Russian Technologies was set up late last year on the foundation of state arms exporter Rosoboronexport, and is headed by Chemezov, a longtime close ally of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's. It was initially put forward as a way to modernize the country's heavy industry sector.

But Chemezov's demands have snowballed and at one point included as many as 600 firms, Russian media reported. In the first concrete decision on the issue, President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree on May 26 handing over state stakes in airline consortium AiRUnion to the corporation.

Now the presidential administration and a majority of ministries are eager to sign off on Russian Technologies' final makeup as soon as possible. But opposition has come from Kudrin and the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service, Vedomosti reported.

Kudrin sent a letter to First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov earlier this month, insisting that a swath of "civilian sector" companies not be incorporated into Russian Technologies, Vedomosti reported.

The impasse is seen in some quarters as a test for the new government's emphasis on reducing state involvement in the economy, as spelled out by Shuvalov in a speech at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on June 8.

Initially Chemezov said he expected the state corporation's makeup to be decided by April. A spokeswoman for Russian Technologies refused to comment on the issue Wednesday.