Russia’s campaigner against corruption


Alexey Navalny already had a reputation as a rabble-rouser when he showed up at the annual general meeting for Rosneft, a Russian oil firm, in Moscow in June 2009. With a small stake in the company, Mr Navalny wanted to question Rosneft chairman Igor Sechin, a confidant of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, about management strategy and the lack of dividends for stockholders.

“I looked around and noticed a bunch of beefy-looking fellows sitting around me,” Mr Navalny said in an interview in his sparsely furnished offices in Moscow. “I am well known in Rosneft, and they’re not always happy to see me.” Mr Navalny said he approached Mr Sechin afterwards and asked why he had been surrounded by guards. “He chuckled and said it was for my own safety,” Mr Navalny said.

It is, perhaps, no surprise that questions of personal safety arise wherever Mr Navalny goes. Cocksure and irrepressible, he has become Russia’s most vocal and obnoxious minority shareholder, hounding the country’s largest companies with muckraking campaigns against corporate malfeasance and incompetence. Mr Navalny has a small stake in almost every major state-owned company in Russia.

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