The practice of Russian ministers acting as regulators and company directors, has been singled out by president Dmitry Medvedev (photo, from bbcimg.co.uk).
He announced that he wants government ministers to give up their seats on boards of directors by mid-2011.
Some see the proposal as a potential blow to Igor Sechin, a close ally of prime minister Vladimir Putin. It will probably reinvigorate talks of a rift between the president and his PM.
As deputy prime minister, Mr Sechin regulates the gas and oil industries, but he also is chairman of state oil firm Rosneft.
The Russian president said he wanted to end “the excessive influence of state companies on the investment climate”.
In a speech in the city of Magnitogorsk that was broadcast live by state news channel, the president told a meeting of his modernisation commission that corruption remained a factor.
Mr Medvedev also said that he had served as chairman of the board of directors of Russia’s state gas monopoly Gazprom. He explained that although it may have made “good sense” at the time, it would not be suitable today, because the state is trying to regulate everything through its own representatives.
“It never worked in any country, and it won’t work in ours,” he said.
He added that all ministers should vacate their seats in order to be replaced by independent figures.
Two examples of companies where government ministers would be replaced at shareholders’ meetings in June are VTB bank and Rosneft, officials said later.
Two ministers and a deputy prime minister are currently serving in Gazprom’s boardroom, while finance minister Alexei Kudrin is on the board of VTB.