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Head Of Ukrainian Energy Giant Naftogaz Replaced

Naftogaz CEO Andriy Kobolyev (center) arrives for talks between the European Union, Russia, and Ukraine at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels in October 2019.

KYIV -- Ukraine's government has replaced the head of Naftogaz, the country's largest oil and gas company, after it posted a loss of nearly $700 million last year.

The government's press service said on April 28 that Andriy Kobolyev was dismissed from the post and acting Energy Minister Yuriy Vitrenko will take over the state-owned giant due to "unsatisfactory" results of the company's operations in 2020.

Deputy Energy Minister Yuriy Boyko will replace Vitrenko, the press service said.

Earlier in the day, a lawmaker representing the ruling Servant of the People party, Olha Vasylevska-Smahlyuk, wrote on Telegram that the government fired Kobolyev "at last."

Kobolyev, who led the energy giant for seven years, wrote on Facebook that he learned about his dismissal from the media and therefore could not comment on the situation.

Naftogaz, one of the country's largest companies by revenue, has long been the object of corrupt schemes by officials and oligarchs. The situation began to change after the 2014 upheaval that swept pro-Kremlin President Viktor Yanukovych from power.

Ukraine's Western backers tied financial aid to the country to concrete steps to clean up state companies such as Naftogaz, including calling for the creation of an independent supervisory board that would guard the company from political or oligarchic pressure.