Chubais to Oversee State Nanotech Firm

MTThen-UES chief Anatoly Chubais visiting an OGK-1 power station in the Yamal-Nenets autonomous district in June.
Anatoly Chubais, who dismantled the national electricity monopoly, will lead one of the country's next ambitious efforts at upgrading its economy as director of the State Nanotechnology Corporation, President Dmitry Medvedev said Monday.

Chubais will replace Leonid Melamed, his former first deputy at Unified Energy System, who has headed the state investment vehicle for nanotechnology since it was registered in September last year.

A spokeswoman for the corporation said she did not know when Chubais would take office. Melamed accompanied Medvedev on a trip to Kazakhstan on Monday, she said.

Chubais was the architect of the plan to bring billions of dollars of investment into electricity generation by privatizing UES assets. He has been on vacation since UES ceased to exist July 1.

"I take my appointment as a new major and interesting challenge that has a direct link to the historic task of setting Russia on the way of innovative development," Chubais said in a statement on his personal web site. "I embrace and understand the mission and the main goal of the corporation, which is capturing for Russia a leading position on the global nanotechnology market."

The government adopted a plan in January to bring nanotechnology-related sales to 900 billion rubles by 2015, a surge from last year's 7 billion rubles.

That amount, Chubais said in the statement, would be on par with the current business of the energy companies that used to comprise UES. Chubais serves on the board's supervisory board.

The corporation, which manages 130 billion rubles ($5.2 billion), has received funding requests worth 550 billion rubles as of Sept. 15, it said on its web site. Only three projects, however, are at the final stage of approval by its supervisory board, it said without elaborating.

The corporation's funds are part of larger spending on the industry by 2015. The Cabinet set aside another 106.4 billion rubles for the program for the development of the nanotechnology industry, which it approved in January.

Chubais praised Melamed's work to start up the corporation, saying his predecessor hired a "unique" staff.

Another of Chubais' former UES colleagues, Leonid Gozman, said Chubais received the appointment because he had proven himself as a strong executive.

"Chubais is, in fact, the best manager in Russia," Gozman said. "It's natural that hard tasks are assigned to him."

Valentin Zavadnikov, chairman of the Federation Council's Industrial Policy Committee, approved of the choice but said he hoped that Chubais would try to convince the government to transform the state corporation into a more transparent organization.