MOSCOW – The head of Russia's (search) state-controlled electricity monopoly, who authored the nation's massive post-Soviet privatization, survived an assassination attempt Thursday when unidentified gunmen fired at his car as he was heading to work, officials said.
Anatoly Chubais (search), the head of Unified Energy Systems, came under attack as he was being driven to work from his country home just west of Moscow (search), said his spokesman, Andrei Trapeznikov, adding that he was not hurt.
The Moscow region's police spokesman, Alexander Alexeyev, said an explosive device went off near Chubais' car and two attackers clad in combat fatigues then sprayed Chubais' armored car with automatic gunfire. No one was hurt, and the attackers fled, Alexeyev said.
The Moscow region's police have launched a massive manhunt for the gunmen.
Chubais presided over the massive sale of state property that followed the 1991 Soviet collapse, a program widely criticized for giving away prized state-owned business and property to tycoons with ties to high officials.
He later served as chief of staff for Russia's first post-Soviet president, Boris Yeltsin.
Chubais took over Unified Energy Systems in 1998, and his radical restructuring of the monopoly power grid has faced massive internal resistance. In an interview last year, he said he repeatedly has been threatened with assassination. He attributed the threats to his activities as Russia's privatization czar.
Chubais has also continued to play a prominent role in Russia's politics as one of the leaders of the Union of Right Forces, a leading liberal party.
Boris Nemtsov, one of the party's leaders, said the attempt on Chubais' life appeared to have political motives. Nemtsov said that Chubais' political enemies had repeatedly threatened to kill him.
"It's clear to me that the attempt on his life had political roots," Nemtsov said, according to the Interfax.
But Irina Khakamada, a prominent liberal politician, said on the Ekho Moskvy radio that the attack was most likely linked to the reform at the electricity monopoly, known as UES. "It must have been linked to difficult processes of redistribution of UES assets," she said.