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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Troops Force Entry For Transneft Boss




Interior Ministry troops used chain saws Thursday to break into the headquarters of the Transneft oil pipeline monopoly and install the newly appointed head of the company in his office.


Several dozen Interior Ministry soldiers were dispatched to the company's offices after supporters of a management team that was ousted last week attempted to block Transneft's new chief, Semyon Vainshtok, from entering his office.


Andrei Vazhnov, a spokesman for ousted Transneft president Dmitry Savelyev, said the troops stormed the building and used chain saws to break down a door and escort Vainshtok to his office.


Savelyev was fired last Friday by First Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Aksyonenko, who named Vainshtok as his replacement. A spokesman for the Fuel and Energy Ministry said Savelyev's management team had cost the government about $30 million in losses through unpaid dividends.


However, Savelyev said his dismissal was illegal, because the government didn't call a shareholders' meeting to consider the move, which would have taken 45 days.


The former Transneft boss said at a news conference Thursday that he had filed a motion with the Prosecutor General's Office drawing attention to the illegality of the move, Prime Tass reported.


Several daughter structures of Transneft have filed similar protests with the Russian government, he added.


Earlier, Vazhnov said that Savelyev has filed a civil suit in a Moscow court, contesting his dismissal as a violation of Russian laws on employment.


The government's move violated the rights of Transneft employees who hold 25 percent of the company's stock, Vazhnov added.


State-controlled companies with large hard-currency earnings, such as Transneft, have become the object of intense political battles as Russian parliamentary and presidential elections approach.


The battle between the Fuel and Energy Ministry and Savelyev suggests there are differences within the government, said Dmitry Avdeyev, an oil analyst at Moscow investment house United Financial Group.


"It's strange that the government has to prove that it has really fired Savelyev, given that it owns the company,'' Avdeyev said.


"This only reflects lack of consensus in the government on this matter,'' he said.