*Putin overseas 2010’s biggest energy deal
*Will not attend Medvedev’s economic forum
*Behaviour points to increased rivalry
By Gleb Bryanski
NOVO-OGARYOVO, Russia, June 17 (Reuters) - Prime Minister Vladimir Putin stole the headlines from Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday by overseeing a major energy deal before the president hosted Russia’s biggest international investors’ event.
Medvedev, halfway through his four-year term, will on Friday address the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, Russia’s answer to the Davos event, which will be attended by global CEOs and policy-makers including French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Kremlin aide Arkady Dvorkovich said “deals worth billions of dollars” would be signed at the forum. But the CEO of Chevron signed Russia’s biggest energy deal involving a foreign major in 2010 at the country residence of former president Putin.
Putin oversaw the signing ceremony between Chevron and Russia’s Rosneft, which agreed jointly to invest $1 billion in a Black Sea oil exploration project where the total cost may reach $32 billion.
Chevron CEO John Watson was due to travel to St. Petersburg later on Thursday and hear Medvedev’s address. A Chevron official said holding the ceremony at Putin’s residence outside Moscow was “logistically easier” than in St. Petersburg.
On Friday — in Moscow — Putin is to address international central bankers, including European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet who are gathering for the 150-year anniversary of the Bank of Russia.
Peskov said Putin would not attend this year’s forum in St.Petersburg, hometown of both president and prime minister.
The events highlighted a hidden rivalry between the men, who boast an excellent rapport in public but find it increasingly hard to reconcile Medvedev’s attempts to assert his powers with Putin’s role as the supreme decision-maker.
The two men have said they have not yet decided who will run for president in 2012 but they are talking about it. The president elected in 2012 could remain in office until 2024 thanks to recent constitutional changes.
Putin tapped Medvedev as his chosen successor in the 2008 presidential election after testing the younger man’s mettle against another potential candidate. He said in a recent interview that he very much liked his job as prime minister.
His statement echoed comments from some political analysts that Russia’s ruling “tandem” may want to continue in the current configuration after 2012. (Writing by Gleb Bryanski; editing by Robert Woodward)