* Alexander Popov, the head of Rosnedra, dismissed
* Analyst says confrontation between PM office and Sechin
By Vladimir Soldatkin
MOSCOW, July 5 Russian Prime Minister Dmitry
Medvedev on Friday sacked a senior resources official, believed
to be a close ally of Igor Sechin, the boss of state oil firm
Rosneft, in a move analysts said was a sign of growing
confrontation between the two men.
In an order published on Friday Medvedev dismissed Alexander
Popov, the head of Rosnedra, an agency responsible for granting
licences to develop natural resources.
Popov was an aide to Sechin when Sechin oversaw Russia's
energy sector as deputy prime minister.
Sechin, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin,
was last year appointed to head Rosneft, the world's largest
publicly listed oil producer, majority-owned by the Kremlin.
Sechin's confrontation with Medvedev's team has grown since
then as Sechin has embarked on an aggressive consolidation of
assets under Rosneft's control. Medvedev's deputy for energy,
Arkady Dvorkovich, has pushed for more privatisation and lower
state interference in the strategic industry.
A more recent spat came over a decision by Rosnedra to
awarded Rosneft and state gas major Gazprom licenses
to tap oil and gas fields in the Arctic, which Dvorkovich has
Medvedev is also a close ally of Putin and was Russian
president when Putin had to step down from the Kremlin as
demanded by the constitution after two consecutive terms as
president in 2008. Putin appointed Medvedev as prime minister
when he returned to the Kremlin in 2012.
"It is clear that the confrontation between
Medvedev-Dvorkovich on one hand and Sechin on the other is
growing, and all means may be used in that fight," political
analyst Stanislav Belkovsky said about Popov's dismissal.
Medvedev's order said Popov was dismissed because his post
was being eliminated. In a separate decree Medvedev named Valery
Pak as deputy minister of natural resources and the head of
"Sechin still enjoys great political clout. This (change in
Rosnedra) won't undermine his power," Andrey Polishchuk, an
analyst with Raiffeisenbank in Moscow said.
(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by David Evans)