MOSCOW, Aug. 1 (UPI) -- A Russian oligarch and head of a rare energy company in Russia -- one not owned by the state -- has quit after claims he's been hunted by the Kremlin.
Mikhail Gutseriyev resigned his post as president of Russneft after, he said, "an unprecedented hunt" by Russian tax officials, the prosecutor general's office and Interior Ministry.
The Washington Post reports Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire with firm allegiance to President Vladimir Putin's new strong-state Russia, is likely to purchase Russneft. The company produces 3 percent of Russia's oil, about 320,000 barrels per day.
Russian state-owned oil firm Rosneft and gas company Gazprom have been gobbling up formerly privately owned energy outfits and aiming at securing a larger footprint in the global energy world as well.
Some of this has been done by strong-armed sales, like Gazprom's new leading role in a once all-private venture to develop reserves on Sakhalin Island.
And then there's the fate of Yukos, once Russia's largest oil company, whose assets are now scattered, mostly among state firms, and its former head, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, serving prison time over taxes.
"They told me I could take the easy way out," said Gutseriyev, the BBC reports. "I refused. Then to make me more ready to negotiate, my company came under unprecedented persecution."
Kremlin officials say it didn't pressure Gutseriyev into quitting.