Russian governor arrested because of US oil company's aggressive interests

Presidential envoy in the North-Western federal district, Ilya Klebanov, introduced acting head of the Nenetsky autonomous region of Russia, Valery Potapenko, last week in the city Naryan-Mar. Klebanov set the prime goal for Potapenko: to drastically change the social situation in the region. However, it was Mr. Klebanov who had put obstacles for such changes before.

The head of the Nenetsky autonomous region, Aleksei Barinov, was arrested at the end of May for the first time in Russian history. The reason to arrest the governor and file a criminal case against him was found in 2000 when Barinov administered the company Arkhangelskgeoldobycha (Arkhangelsk Geological Mining). The file against the governor was closed the same year due to lack of corpus delicti.

According to one of the versions, Aleksei Barinov’s trouble is connected with a conflict with powerful oil companies, including foreign organization. When a governor, Barinov demanded all Russian Federation laws should be strictly observed in his region. He believed that it was the factor that would help the region achieve a considerable breakthrough in the social and economic field. In addition, such progress would contribute to the basic development of the entire North-West of Russia. The governor particularly demanded the companies should pay taxes and use transparent financial schemes in their activities. The remarks that he made in one of his interviews seem to be quite curious at this point: “As long as I remember, there has always been a fight around dividend payment on the part of Conoco Phillips. When I was working at Arkhangelskgeoldobycha, they were paying this money. When I left, they stopped doing it. I think that I will expose some names and addresses,” Barinov said. “Someone is definitely trying to solve their personal problems as they stir up a criminal scandal around my name on behalf of the state,” the governor in disgrace said.

It is difficult to say what the governor was talking about, although it is possible to analyze the state of affairs of that period of time and come to certain conclusions.

Aleksei Barinov was trying to arrange a meeting with President Putin from March to April of this year. The governor wanted to talk to Putin about the events happening in the Nenetsky autonomous region and share his regional development plans. Barinov wrote quite a number of letters to Putin on the matter. He visited the presidential administration on several occasions, trying to arrange a meeting with the head of state. In return, the governor only received a response from the presidential envoy saying that such a meeting was not necessary. The response was not surprising at all. The envoy, Ilya Klebanov that is, could only careless about the well-being of the Nenetsky region. When Aleksei Barinov invited Ilya Klebanov to visit the region, the presidential envoy said that he had no interest in the territory. Indeed, Mr. Klebanov has never visited the region during Barinov’s stay in the office. It turned out later, though, that Klebanov’s indifference in the region of his official responsibility was based on something else. When the governor was arrested, Ilya Klebanov visited the region twice.

Ilya Klebanov’s conduct has had certain peculiarities before too. He publicly supported the candidacy of Alexander Shmakov at gubernatorial elections. Mr. Shmakov chaired the US-Russian oil company Northern Lights (with Rosneft and Conoco Phillips as shareholders). First off, a presidential envoy is not supposed to support an election candidate. Secondly, his protege did not even make it in the top three of most popular nominees. It seems that the company Conoco Phillips pinned hopes on Alexander Shmakov too. It all looked like a peculiar combination of private interests under the guidance of state officials.

It is not hard to predict what kind of a turn events will take in the Nenetsky autonomous region afterwards as long as the “noise-maker” has been jailed. US oil companies will most likely realize their aggressive ambition in the region. They have something to fight for there: the regional oil reserves make up not less than one billion tons. In the future, they may take the Northern Sea Way under their control. Needless to say that federal officials will be happy and wealthy under these circumstances taking into consideration the fact that they have no obstinate governor in the region anymore. The interests of the state do not matter at this point; personal interests seem to be far more important.

Sergei Pavlov for
Noviye Izvestia

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov