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Russian ecology official quits to run green group

Reuters UK

Tue Apr 14, 2009 2:08pm BS

By Olzhas Auyezov

MOSCOW, April 14 (Reuters) – Russian ecology official Oleg Mitvol, known for his high-profile attacks on Western resource companies, is leaving his job to run an environmental movement seeking representation on Russian city governments.

Mitvol, deputy head of environment watchdog RosPrirodNadzor, led a 2006 attack on the Sakhalin-2 energy project that ended only after Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) ceded control of the project to state-controlled gas giant Gazprom (GAZP.MM).

Mitvol, whose agency is part of the Natural Resources Ministry, has in the past also criticised London-listed gold miner Peter Hambro Mining (POG.L) and BP’s (BP.L) Russian venture, TNK-BP (TNBPI.RTS).

Analysts said his tough environmental scrutiny of the firms’ operations could have been part of an attempt by the state to increase its control over Russia’s natural resources sector. Mitvol and other officials have repeatedly denied this.

Mitvol said on Tuesday that he had resigned because his agency was failing to do its job. “The efficiency of that organisation’s work was approaching zero,” he told a news conference.

He said that, after officially leaving his post later this month, he planned to run the recently established ‘Green Alternative’ movement.

“This is a movement aimed at competing in municipal elections,” he told reporters. “I think ecology should be political.”

Mitvol did not rule out returning to government in the future. “I am a very strong candidate: five years’ experience, a Ph.D degree and bilingual,” he said. (Editing by Tim Pearce)


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