by Roman Kupchinsky
The June 26, 2009 shareholders meeting of OAO Gazprom, the Russian state-owned gas monopoly, did not produce many surprises. Management received large bonuses while shareholders complained that they were being victimized by the company as their dividends shrank.
One of the most interesting developments was the election of Valery Musin to the company’s board of directors as an independent director. Musin, head of the Civil Procedure Department at St Petersburg University Law Faculty, is the former research supervisor of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and teacher of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
Musin received the second most votes from shareholders at the meeting after Alexei Miller, the company CEO.
Musin’s relationship with Putin solidified during their days together in the St. Petersburg Mayor’s office where Putin headed the department of foreign economic relations. Musin worked in this department as a legal expert. Other employees in the section were Alexei Miller, the present CEO of Gazprom, Valery Golubev, a former KGB officer who is now a deputy CEO of Gazprom, and Igor Sechin, the Deputy Prime Minister responsible for energy policy in Putin’s cabinet who is also chairman of the board of directors of the state-owned oil company Rosneft.
At the time of this posting, the Gazprom website had not yet posted a full biography of Musin indicating only that he was head of the Civil Procedure Department.
While Musin might not have much clout on the Gazprom board, his election appears to be the result of Putin’s and Medvedev’s efforts on his behalf. According to an article in Kommersant Daily, "The Prime Minister cut the list (of candidates for the board) apart," our source in the Government said. However, another well-informed source claims that the amendments were made by President Dmitry Medvedev.”
Whatever role Musin is expected to play as an independent director, there is no doubt that his election to the board will only strengthen Putin’s hold over Gazprom. As a legal expert Musin will no doubt provide invaluable advice to Russia’s champion company, its managers and behind-the-scenes power brokers.