MOSCOW - Political blogger and activist Aleksey Navalny joined the board of Russia's largest airline, Aeroflot, this week.
Navalny has been one of the driving forces behind the protest marches against Vladimir Putin and his party, and has been arrested several times in the last few months. Early June, his apartment and office were extensively searched by police, in connection with an investigation into the clashes between protesters and police during the May 6 protest. He is well known as a political blogger and anti-corruption activist, but has never held a high-level position at a public company.
Navalny's candidacy was backed by Aleksander Lebedev, the outspoken head of a large Russian bank that owns 15 percent of Aeroflot. He also had the support of 70 percent of the stockholders, including the Russian Federal Property Management Agency. Support from the state agency is only possible with the support of the Russian government.
Navalny became one of 11 members the Aeroflot board. Russia's largest airline had $4 billion in revenue and 312 million profits in 2011. Last year, members of the board of directors received compensation of around $500,000 each.
Lebedev explained that the company needed to improve the efficiency of its corporate procedures. He said that he considers Navalny a very effective worker, and that he would be valuable to the company as a board member: "He will act on behalf of all stockholders, as well as the government stockholders."
On Twitter, Navalny wrote: "Fly Aeroflot." He also said that he would do "as usual, protect the rights of minority shareholders and the company's interests." He stressed that he had been supported by two international consulting groups who provide minority stakeholders with voting recommendations.
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Photo - Mitya Aleshkovskiy