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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

MegaFon General Director to Step Down Early, Possibly Move to Cabinet

VedomostiMegaFon General Director Sergei Soldatenkov has been at the helm of one of Russia three biggest telecom giants since 2003.

MegaFon General Director Sergei Soldatenkov will leave the helm of one of Russia three biggest telecom giants as soon as next week, long before the end of his contract in June, a media report said Thursday.

Ivan Tavrin, who had been tapped to replace Soldatenkov after coming to the company in January as deputy general director, will take over already next week, sources in the company told Vedomosti. Soldatenkov's last working day will be April 23, a person close to the general director said.

Many industry watchers predict that Soldatenkov will take over as Communications andPress Minister when the new government is formed in May. Analysts say his experience after nine years heading MegaFon could be useful. Current Communications andPress Minister Igor Shchyogolev does not have background in atelecoms, but in media.

Industry sources told The Moscow Times that former Microsoft Russia chief and current VTB vice president Olga Dergunova was interviewed by President Dmitry Medvedev for the minister position. The same source said thatSoldatenkov was also recently interviewed for the same job, but it was not clear by whom.

Soldatenkov addressed speculation about the possible move to the ministry in an interview with Kommersant in January.

"The same rumors circulated 3 1/2 years ago when Leonid Reiman was stepping down as minister. Andit's understandable: I've been working intelecoms forlong enough, there are certain results," he told Kommersant. "But nobody offered me this position either then or now, andI hope they won't. Asuccessful manager is not always asuccessful official," he said.

Soldatenkov, who has headed the company since2003, has turned MegaFon — which was born out ofthe country's first GSM operator, St. Petersburg-based North-West GSM — intoone ofthe leading mobile operators.

With about 61 million subscribers across Russia, MegaFon is one ofthe "Big Three" mobile operators, which also include MTS andVimpelCom, with 69.7 million subscribers and57 million subscribers, respectively.