2 Jul 2010 10:23

Moscow press review for July 2, 2010

MOSCOW. Juny 2 (Interfax) - The following is a digest of Moscow newspapers published on July 2. Interfax does not accept liability for information in these stories.


The natural resource extraction tax (NRET) should be increased for gas and oil, but it has yet to be decided by how much, Economic Development Minister Elvira Nabiullina said. In order to increase budget revenues, the Finance Ministry wants to double the NRET for gas to 294 rubles per 1,000 cubic meters starting 2011 and further adjust it annually according to inflation, and to increase the basic tax for oil by 11.6% to 468 rubles per tonne. The Finance Ministry expects this measure to add 679.6 billion rubles to the budget. The Economic Development Ministry has suggested increasing the NRET for gas by 61% and for oil by 11.2%, as is evident from the ministry's letter to the Finance Ministry. If these proposals are accepted, oil companies and Gazprom may lose 680 billion rubles ('Underpaid').

Igor Zyuzin, the principal owner of the coal and steel giant Mechel , has left the position of the company's CEO and has become its board chairman instead of Valentin Proskurnya. Yevgeny Mikhel, who was earlier Zyuzin's first deputy, has been appointed the company's CEO. Zyuzin, who holds 66.76% in Mechel, had become its CEO in 2006. He made it clear back then that he would leave the position one day, Mechel's spokesperson Yekaterina Videman said. The holding's structure has been modified since then, and the company announced the completion of its restructuring on Thursday. From now on, each of Mechel's five activity segments will be run by its own management company ('Zyuzin's Retirement', see also Kommersant, page 9, 'Mechel Split Up Into Divisions').

State Duma deputies from the United Russia parliamentary group proposed amendments to Article 108 of the Criminal Procedure Code on Thursday to stipulate clearly who cannot be arrested before trial if charged with economic crimes. Amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code banning arrests of people suspected of committing business-related crimes were enacted in April, but they did not stipulate clearly to whom these amendments may be applied. The bill proposed by United Russia bans arresting co-owners of companies whose operations are under investigation, individual business people, members of boards of directors or other collective executive bodies of companies, and also "individuals performing organizational and managerial or administrative functions permanently or temporarily" ('No Jailing for Managers').


Confrontation between oil companies and the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) may take an unexpected turn: the Energy Ministry, which earlier almost never intervened in this dispute, has suggested that the government be invested with the right to directly regulate prices for oil products in case they rise dramatically or their producer violates antimonopoly laws. Relevant proposals are contained in a bill On Oil, which the Energy Ministry has sent to relevant governmental agencies for clearance and intends to submit to the government in September 2010 (page 2, 'Government to Ensure Sponsored Gasoline').

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is continuing to publish documents related to RosUkrEnergo's lawsuit claiming that Naftogaz Ukrainy illegally pumped 11 billion cubic meters of gas out of national underground storage facilities. In line with the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce's recent ruling, Naftogaz admitted the wrongdoing but asked for being allowed to refund the debt to RosUkrEnergo not in cash but by returning the said amount of gas to the energy trader. Tymoshenko is sure that Naftogaz acknowledged its wrongdoing under pressure from the new Ukrainian authorities led by President Viktor Yanukovych. Lawyers believe that, in any case, the nation will have to repay the debt to RosUkrEnergo (page 7, 'Ukraine Acknowledges Theft').