Aleksandr Riazanov, vice president of the Russian natural gas giant Gazprom was fired because of his independence and reticence in fulfilling orders. Riazanov was replaced with Valeri Golubev, former KGB officer and a close acquaintance of president Putin.

The new vice president will handle issues in the Community of Independent States (CSI) area, the organization representing all former USSR states, except for the three Baltic states.

Golubev, a career man in Sankt-Petersburg, just like president Putin, was named in the position without any further comments or explanations.

Gazprom intends to force higher prices for the natural gas delivered to Russian neighboring countries, and for this reason is accused of serving as a weapon against the former Soviet states.