When the world's largest nickel and palladium producer chose former Russia tourism chief Viktor Strzhalkovsky as its new CEO, the privately owned company moved a little closer to the Kremlin - Strzhalkovsky is a former KGB officer and crony of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Not everyone was happy with the decision: United Company Rusal, Russia's largest aluminum producer and a major shareholder in Norilsk Nickel, has openly censured the new hire, Norilsk's environmental record and the company's board. Strzhalkovsky in turn has announced plans to buy back $2 billion worth of Norilsk stock.
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