Sunday, December 07, 2008

Czar, Czar


In Hard Times, Russia Moves In to Reclaim Private Industries

BEREZNIKI, Russia — In late October, one of Vladimir V. Putin’s top lieutenants abruptly summoned a billionaire mining oligarch to a private meeting. The official, Igor I. Sechin, had taken a sudden interest in a two-year-old accident at the oligarch’s highly lucrative mining operations here in Russia’s industrial heartland.

Mr. Sechin, who is a leader of a shadowy Kremlin faction tied to the state security services, said he was ordering a new inquiry into the mishap, according to minutes of the meeting. With a deputy interior minister who investigates financial crime at his side, Mr. Sechin threatened crippling fines against the company, Uralkali.

Everywhere A Czar:

WASHINGTON — Congressional Democrats on Sunday were weighing options for tight government control of the crippled American auto industry, including the possible creation of an oversight board made up of five cabinet secretaries and the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, and led by an independent chairman or “car czar.”