The Business On: Igor Sechin, Deputy Prime Minister of Russia

Sarah Arnott
Saturday 05 February 2011 01:00 GMT

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Louise Thomas

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Not the one who uses 'The Godfather' as a life manual?

Not all powerful Russians are the same. That's German Borisovich Khan, according to Wikileaks. He is one of the billionaires behind the TNK-BP joint venture in yet another spat with partner BP. Igor Sechin is Russia's Deputy Prime Minister and the chairman of rival Rosneft, a man dubbed by the Russian press as both "Darth Vader" and "the scariest man on earth".

Has he been Wikileaked as well?

He has. Bob Dudley – now the BP boss, then that of TNK-BP – reportedly fingered Mr Sechin as the puppetmaster behind the "black PR" campaign that forced him to flee Russia after a TNK-BP boardroom fracas in 2008.

But BP's now in bed with Rosneft?

Sure is. And Mr Sechin was absolutely central to the $10bn (£6.2bn) deal that includes share swaps and plans for Arctic oil exploration. Progress is on hold because the AAR consortium that owns half of TNK-BP (of which Mr Khan is a member) claims it violates their shareholder agreement, Kremlin-watchers' response is merely that Mr Sechin will get what he wants.

Is he the scariest man on earth?

Possibly not the entire earth. But he is the "third man" in the Kremlin, alongside the president, Dmitry Medvedev, and the prime minister, Vladimir Putin. He has also leads the boards of Rosneft and the United Shipbuilding Corporation, and is credited with brokering deals with Venezuela on weapons and nuclear technology and with Cuba over oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

But hang on. Isn't Rosneft linked to the Yukos controversy too?

Indeed it is. When rival Yukos was dismantled after CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky was jailed in 2005, Rosneft snapped up assets on the cheap. Obviously the two things might not be linked. But Khodorkovsky – recently given another 14-year sentence – certainly blames Mr Sechin. "He orchestrated the first case against me out of greed and the second out of cowardice," Khodorkovsky said.

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