Putin appoints new head of Russian industrial region

MOSCOW (REUTERS) - President Vladimir Putin appointed the director of a leading steel company as the interim governor of one of Russia's main industrial regions on Wednesday, replacing Mikhail Yurevich, a target of graft investigations by the opposition.

Mr Boris Dubrovsky, the general director of one of Russia's top four steelmakers, MMK, will replace Mr Yurevich who had resigned, the Kremlin said in a statement on its website.

Opposition leader and anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny has posted on his blog several times about Mr Yurevich, who since 2010 has served as governor of the Chelyabinsk region, Russia's metals, mining and manufacturing heartland.

The Kremlin said Mr Dubrovsky's appointment was aimed at tackling a crisis in Russia's industrial metals companies, many of whom have operations in the region.

Shares in MMK, controlled by billionaire Viktor Rashnikov, rose on the news to trade up 1.4 per cent, outperforming the broader market.

"This is a sign the government believes in the owner and management of the company," said Societe Generale analyst Sergey Donskoy.

Russia's indebted metals and mining firms, most controlled by billionaire oligarchs loyal to the Kremlin, are in need of state support since a growth slowdown in China and stagnation in Europe sent profits tumbling.

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