New head of Rosatom announced

6 October 2016

Russian President Vladimir Putin has appointed Alexei Likhachev head of state nuclear corporation Rosatom, replacing Sergei Kiriyenko, who was formally appointed first deputy head of the Presidential Administration on 5 October. Likhachev was born in 1962 in Arzamas-75 (Sarov). In 1985 he graduated from the Radiophysics Department of the Lobachevsky State University in Nizhny Novgorod (formerly known as Gorky). From 1985 to 1987 he worked as an engineer in the Gorky Research Institute of Instrument Engineering and then held various posts in the All-Union Leninist Young Communist League in Gorky.

From 1992 to 2000 he was Director of the Nizhni Novgorod Social and Industrial Insurance Company "Aval", during which time he also graduated from the Department of Economics of the Lobachevsky State University. He has a Ph.D. in Economics.

He was the State Duma (parliament) Deputy of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation from 2000-2007 and was Deputy Chairperson of the State Duma Committee for economic policy, business activity and tourism. He was also a member of the Management Board of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs.

From 2007 to 2008 he was adviser to the Minister of the Economic Development and from 2008-2010 Director of the Joint Department of Analysis and Regulation of Foreign-Economic Activity at the Ministry of Economic Development. He became Deputy Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation in 2010 and First Deputy Minister of Economic Development in 2015.

Earlier, rumours of Sergei Kiriyenko’s imminent departure from Rosatom were met with dismay. Russian nuclear industry sources told NEI that the news was causing considerable consternation. When Kiriyenko was first appointed to head the Federal Agency for Atomic Energy in 2005, which became Rosatom in 2007, he was viewed with suspicion by nuclear industry personnel, who resented the appointment of a manager with no nuclear or scientific background. However, he worked hard to learn about the industry and eventually was reluctantly accepted. Today, having made Rosatom one of Russia’s most successful state corporations, he is generally valued. 

There was concern that his successor would another manager who will have to learn on the job, or even a military figure with no knowledge of the nuclear industry. It was also conceivable, NEI was told, that Kiriyenko could still retain overall control of the industry from his position within the presidential administration, but the appointment of Likhachev makes this unlikely. Like Kiriyenko he is a manager, and clearly an able and experienced manager, who has the confidence of President Putin. Unlike Kiriyenko, he also has a background in science and engineering, which will be an advantage. However, it will still be a steep learning curve, as the nuclear industry is unique in many respects. It remains to be seen how quickly he will be accepted by industry veterans. 

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