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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Energia President Faces Calls for His Dismissal

Two years after installing an ambitious manager to run Energia, the country's flagship space industry company, the government is now looking to oust him for proposals it sees as out of this world.

At the company's annual shareholders meeting Saturday, Energia Rocket Space Corporation president Nikolai Sevastyanov unveiled its 2006 results and audit reports, only to have both voted down. The shareholders also called for the selection of a new president in elections to be held July 31, a statement posted on the Federal Space Agency web site said.

The government can choose the Energia president because, combined with allied minority shareholders, it controls more than half of the firm's shares, the agency's web site said. Energia's fourth-quarter report for 2006 lists the three largest shareholders as the federal government, with a 38.22 percent stake, Razvitiye investment company, with 17.36 percent, and a company called Lider, which has a 6.99 percent stake.

The space agency's statement did not refer to Sevastyanov as president, and he is also missing from the list of executives on Energia's corporate web site. The site listed Alexander Strekalov, a former cosmonaut and the head of the company's Experimental Machine Building Plant, as acting president.

Calls to press services at Energia and to the Federal Space Agency went unanswered Monday. Sevastyanov could not be reached by phone.

A medium-level Energia official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to comment to the press, said by phone that Federal Space Agency head Anatoly Perminov had personally pushed for Sevastyanov's ouster. He said Energia's board of directors met June 22 to suspend Sevastyanov and appoint Strekalov acting president of the company, which produces both Progress-M cargo ships and Soyuz-TMA crew capsules for the international space station. The official also said Perminov visited Energia's headquarters June 25 to push for Sevastyanov's dismissal. He said Perminov told company management he was tired of, among other things, Sevastyanov's unrealistic vows on projects, such as manned missions to the Moon and Mars.

Sevastyanov is "guilty of announcing enormous projects -- whether to Mars or the Moon -- for which neither we nor [the Federal Space Agency] has funding," the Energia official said.

Perminov told the meeting that tensions between him and Sevastyanov over the projects had been escalating since January, and admitted that he had made a mistake in supporting Sevastyanov for president in 2005, the official added.

In May 2005, Perminov pushed for Sevastyanov, then the little-known head of the Gascom satellite telecommunications firm, to replace long-time Energia head Yury Semyonov despite fierce resistance from company managers.

The official said Perminov is now calling for the job to go to Vitaly Lopota, head of the Central Scientific Research and Development Institute for Robotics and Technical Cybernetics.

An institute employee reached by telephone declined to comment Monday. Calls to Lopota's office went unanswered.