Mr. Sechin is not just the chief executive of Rosneft, he is also one of the heroes of contemporary Russian politics. He is believed to have served as a K.G.B. agent in Africa and had no real experience in the business world until he was over 40. He didn’t come to lead the state oil company because of his business acumen; he earned his position through his loyalty to Mr. Putin.
.. Mr. Sechin was working as Mr. Putin’s deputy chief of staff, and though he had no formal judicial or investigatory authority, Mr. Khodorkovsky accused him of initiating his arrest — and the campaign that followed to nationalize Yukos. It’s impossible to know, but it seems likely. Following Mr. Khodorkovsky’s arrest, Rosneft absorbed Yukos’s assets. In 2004, Mr. Sechin was appointed to head Rosneft’s board.
.. The arrest last month of Aleksei Ulyukayev, the minister of economic development, on charges of bribery was widely viewed as an act of revenge by Mr. Sechin. With the arrest, the first of an active government minister in post-Soviet Russia, he again confirmed his image as the most sinister man in the president’s inner circle.