Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 71

The announcement, made April 9 by Aleksandr Kazakov, head of the State Privatization Committee, that the government is likely to try to buy back from leading Russian banks the blocks of shares in oil companies that were sold in last autumn’s controversial "shares for loans" auctions, has been met calmly by the oil companies in question: Lukoil, Yukos, Surgutneftegaz, Sidanko, and Sibneft. (Interfax, April 10) Kazakov said he supported the move because "the state must retain its influence over the oil companies," but he added that the government had not yet definitely decided to buy back the shares and that no money for this purpose was earmarked in this year’s budget. Nezavisimaya gazeta commented April 10 that, "if the government really decides to repossess the shares, it will have to cough up more than $500 million (including interest)." This sum, the newspaper went on, "is quite within the range of the federal budget: it could be easily covered by two IMF tranches."

Moscow Jousting with NATO.