Russia Environment Watchdog Head Resigns

LONDON, Jan 11, 2008 (Dow Jones Newswires)

The head of Russia's environmental regulating agency, Sergey Sai, has tendered his resignation, a person close to the government said Friday.

Sai, who ran the Federal Subsoil Resources Management Agency, or Rosprirodnadzor, submitted his resignation to the minister of natural resources on Dec. 26, with his notice filed to the prime minister's office the following day, the person familiar with the situation told Dow Jones Newswires.

Russian media, citing unnnamed sources, reported Friday that the resignation will take place Thursday.

Both the ministry and the agency refused to comment.

The government's press office said Sai hadn't left his post.

Sai's possible resignation opens the way for his deputy Oleg Mitvol, a man known for his repeated regulatory threats against foreign resource companies.

Mitvol told Dow Jones Newswires he knew of his boss's wish to resign but couldn't say who would take over the post.

Mitvol shot to fame in 2006 when his threat to pull an environmental permit at the $20 billion Sakhalin oil and natural gas project, led by Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDBS.LN), sparked a global diplomatic row.

Now a household name among brokers covering foreign resource companies operating in Russia, his statements against a BP PLC (BP)-led venture TNK-BP Holding (TNBP.RS) and smaller resource companies like Imperial Energy Corp. PLC (IEC.LN), Highland Gold Mining Ltd (HGM.LN), Urals Energy PCL (UEN.LN) have buffeted their shares.

LONDON, Jan 11, 2008 (Dow Jones Newswires)

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