The long-standing deputy chief executive of Russia’s gas giant Gazprom, Alexander Medvedev, who oversaw an increase in gas exports to Europe, has been relieved of his post, the company said on Monday without providing further details, according to RIA news agency.
Medvedev, who had been Gazprom’s deputy chief for over 16 years, was a key figure in Gazprom’s often hard negotiations with European countries over gas supplies, which became politicized after Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.
He was Gazprom’s de-facto head of exporting business, although he had been replaced as Gazprom Export chief by Elena Burmistrova in 2014.
Medvedev had a difficult task persuading European countries to buy Russian gas and approve the construction of gas pipelines, such as TurkStream and Nord Stream 2, in the face of U.S. opposition.
Gazprom’s sales account for over 5 percent of Russia’s $1.6 trillion economies. The company will make an appointment to replace Medvedev in due course, according to a spokesman.
“It’s a shock for many in the company,” a source close to Gazprom told Reuters after the news was announced.
Another source with knowledge within the industry told the news agency that Medvedev had strained relations with Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller which could have led to his departure.
Valery Golubev, another deputy CEO, will also leave the company, Gazprom said.
Gazprom also said Vsevolod Cherepanov, another executive who has chaired the gas production department, will change roles but continue working at the company.