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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ousted Plant Director Wins Injunction

The ousted director of Urals-based Kachkanar Vanadium Mining Complex said Friday a court had issued a preliminary injunction in his favor and vowed to fight the armed takeover of his plant to the bitter end.

The intermunicipal court of the Cheryomushky district of Moscow on Jan. 31 issued an injunction preventing Andrei Kozitsyn, the new director of the Kachkanar Vanadium Mining Complex, or the board of directors from signing any new contracts until a final decision is issued.

Ousted director Dzholol Khaidarov made copies of the court ruling available to journalists at a Friday press conference.

The preliminary ruling also orders new management to permit Khaidarov, board chairman Damir Gareyev and Alexei Zanadvorov, the board member who filed the complaint, to enter the plant. The court did not specify when it would make a final ruling.

Zanadvorov's appeal claims that Kozitsyn illegally seized the plant and that the board's decision to replace the director was invalid because only four of the seven members had voted. Five votes are required by law to install a new director.

"The law is the law," Khaidarov said Friday. "The law must be followed to the letter."

Despite the court ruling, Khaidarov and his two colleagues have not yet been given access to the plant, he added.

Khaidarov said he is confident the issue will be settled because among his backers is a German company with an 18 percent stake in the plant and a British firm.

"They will sue if the Russian court does not uphold the law," he said. "With the support of the international investors the problem will be solved."

He declined to say more about either shareholder.

Khaidarov lost his post at Kachkanar GOK on Jan. 28 when the board of directors abruptly met and elected Kozitsyn as new director. Hours later, Kozitsyn accompanied by armed guards and police swooped down on the plant and took over the premises. Khaidarov was at the time recovering from surgery at a Moscow hospital.

Plant workers - who account for almost all of the adults in Kachkanar, a town of 51,000 - took to the streets over the next few days, holding a rally in the town center and making several attempts to push past the strongly fortified parameters of the factory. Kachkanar GOK produces about 40 million metric tons of ores a year, generating some $300 million in sales.

"The workers were scared by the factory seizure," board chairman Gareyev told reporters. "If the factory was going to be shut down, they wouldn't have any work."

Khaidarov, who was director at Kachkanar GOK for just over one year, vehemently denied his ousting meant that he had fallen out of favor with a powerful Urals metals clan, blaming instead disapproval of the plant's poor 1999 financial showing.

"You cannot say that I am from one group," he said. "I have worked for a number of companies."

Kachkanar GOK posted pretax profits of 2.2 million rubles (about $76,000) for the first nine months of 1999, a huge drop from the 23.7 million rubles over the same period the previous year.

Khaidarov refused to speculate who precisely may be behind the power struggle. He did hint, however, that new Kachkanar GOK director Kozitsyn, who is also the general director of the Uralelektromed copper smelter, might have close ties with powerful regional metals magnates Iskander Makhmudov and Mikhail Chorny. The Interior Ministry has linked Chorny with organized crime.

Kozitsyn and other plant officials declined to comment Friday.

The Urals region, whose economy relies heavily on the metals industry, is rife with shadowy groups struggling over the area's valuable natural resources. Kachkanar GOK alone has seen four or five armed takeovers in just over three years and has gone through 17 directors. Kozitsyn is the 18th.