Flamboyant Russian Exile may Head Ukraine’s Biggest Oil and Gas Company

cheOne of Russia’s most outlandish opposition figures and fallen businessmen, Evgeny Chichvarkin, may become the head of Ukraine’s largest oil and gas company, Ukrnafta.

Chichvarkin, who is better known for his stunts such as giving away free cell phones to naked customers, is a staunch anti-Putinist, and left Russia in 2008, on the run from kidnapping and extortion charges from Russia’s interior ministry.

If Chichvarkin’s candidacy for the position is accepted, the announcement will be made on July 22 at the company’s shareholder meeting.

Ukrnafta “unanimously determined the two candidates for the position. Both candidates have years of experience in leading international companies and a proven high professional level in managing oil and gas companies,” the energy company said in a statement on July 10.

Chichvarkin is the ex-owner of Evroset, which at the time he sold his shares, was Russia’s biggest mobile retailer. After his self-exile he moved to London, where he owns a luxury wine store named Hedonism.

Ukraine’s biggest oil and gas company oversees 86 percent of Ukraine’s oil production, 28 percent of gas condensate production, and 16 percent of gas production. Naftogaz, a state-owned energy company, owns a 50% +1 stake in Ukrnafta, and Ukrainian oligarch Igor Kolomoisky owns 42 percent.