Friday, November 21, 2014

Lithuania’s president: Russia is a terrorist state

Aggression might spread in Europe if Russia is not stopped in Ukraine, Lithuanian President Dalia GrybauskaitÄ— said in an interview on Thursday, calling Russia a terrorist state. “Today, Ukraine is fighting for peace in the whole of Europe, for all of us. If the terrorist state that is carrying out aggression against its neighbour is not stopped, that aggression might spread in Europe and beyond,” the president told the national radio LRT. In response Russian Foreign Ministry representative Alexander Lukashevich stated on the ministry's website: “The Lithuanian president would better restrain her Komsomol member’s ardour and drop her ‘Soviet-past’ inferiority complex which apparently makes her trying to ‘outpope the pope.’”

Thursday, November 20, 2014

'Deoffshorization' law to earn Russia $425 million annually

The implementation of the law on the 'deoffshorization' of the Russian economy is expected to bring about 20 billion rubles (some $425 million) to the budget, Interfax reports on Wednesay, citing Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Shatalov. The bill was recently approved by both houses of Russian parliament. Shatalov said the law was only the first step and that Russia planned to exchange relevant information with the countries where offshore companies are registered. This would be done within the framework of the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters, which over 60 countries including Russia have signed. The deputy minister said that not all companies established in the countries with which Russia has double taxation agreements are suspected of tax avoidance. “We need to start by establishing whether a company in question receives an active or a passive income. Only companies that have a passive income and pay a lower than usual tax will have additional tax obligations to their home country,” Shatalov said.

Nephew of ex-president of Kyrgyzstan released from prison

Sanjar Bakiev, the nephew of the former president of Kyrgyzstan, Kurmanbek Bakiev, has completed his prison term after being convicted of organizing mass riots, RIA Novosti reported on Wednesday, citing the Kyrgyz penal service. Sanjar Bakiev was sentenced in November 2010 to 10 years’ imprisonment for organizing riots by groups loyal to President Bakiev in the southern city of Jalal-Abad in May 2010. Former Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev © RIA Novosti Former Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev A raid of his apartment revealed a large inventory of firearms, special equipment, ammunition, computers and portable radio sets. Kyrgyzstan’s Supreme Court later cut his prison term to five years and a fine of 75,000 som (about $1,800). Kurmanbek Bakiev fled the country amid antigovernment protests in April 2010. He was sentenced in absentia to life in prison in Kyrgyzstan for his role in the uprising, which left almost 100 people dead.

Magnitsky relatives appeal against his posthumous prosecution in Supreme Court

The mother of Hermitage Capital auditor Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a detention facility, appealed to the Russian Supreme Court to block the posthumous prosecution of her son, Hermitage Capital informed RAPSI on Thursday. Hermitage Capital noted that in her appeal, Natalya Magnitskaya claims that the courts of lower instance refused to find the actions of an Interior Ministry investigator illegal. “It is the court’s responsibility to verify the validity and legitimacy of the investigator’s statement. In this case the investigator’s claims were not verified by any evidence,” the appeal states. For their part, the Press Service of the Supreme Court confirmed that the court had received an appeal from Natalya Magnitskaya regarding the May 22, 2014 ruling of the Tverskoi District Court and said it is currently under consideration. Magnitsky worked for Firestone Duncan and represented Hermitage Capital which was accused of tax evasion by Russian authorities. Magnitsky was arrested on fraud charges in November 2008 and found dead in a Moscow detention center in November 2009. Last July, the Tverskoi District Court of Moscow found Magnitsky guilty of tax evasion and closed the case due to his death. According to the case materials, Magnitsky’s and Hermitage Capital director William Browder’s actions cost the Russian Federation over 500 million rubles ($10.6 mln). Browder was sentenced to nine years in prison in absentia.

Medvedev: Russia won't restrict capital flow

Russia will not impose restrictions on capital flow. On the contrary, there are plans to increase foreign currency transactions, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said at a Government meeting on Thursday. “In view of the current situation in the foreign currency market, the Government, myself, my colleagues and Central Bank management have repeatedly stated that we are not going to impose any special restrictions on capital flow,” Medvedev said. He noted that today, the Government would discuss a regulation that, if approved, will increase the number of allowed foreign currency transactions. As earlier announced by President Putin, Russia has no plans to restrict capital flow as officials can control the situation with its reserves without any extra measures. Last month, the head of the Central Bank Elvira Nabiullina announced that the regulator would not restrict capital flow or private currency transactions. Medvedev also mentioned that there will no further restrictions on foreign currency sales.

Russian Justice Ministry slams ECHR for violation of notification procedure

European Court for Human Righst deprived Russia of presenting its case in the ongoing Senchishak v. Finland case, says the statement posted on the Justice Ministry’s website on Thursday. The statement says that the Russian authorities were not informed about an application hearing, in violation of Article 36, thus depriving Russia from presenting its arguments in a case concerning human rights violation against its citizen. Russian Justice Ministry adds that similar incidents happened before, and the ECHR was duly noted. On Tuesday, ECHR issued a ruling in application of Marina Senchishak, 72, partially paralyzed Russian national who was declined a residence permit and deported by the Finnish authorities. According to the case rescords, Ms Senchishak arrived in Finland in December 2008 on a tourist visa to stay with her daughter. Her daughter has been living in Finland since 1988 and has become a Finnish citizen. Ms Senchishak applied for a residence permit on the basis of family ties. She alleged before both the immigration authorities and administrative courts that, paralysed on her right side since 2006 after having suffered a stroke, it was impossible for her to obtain adequate medical care in Russia and that she was therefore dependent on her daughter in Finland, her husband having died in 2007 and her other daughter having been missing – presumed dead – since 2003. The immigration authorities refused Ms Senchishak a residence permit and ordered her removal to Russia. Ms Senchishak alleged that her removal would be in violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) and Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) because she did not have access to medical care in Russia, it being impossible for her to obtain a place in a nursing home there, and because she would be separated from her daughter, her closest living relative. ECHR has ruled that the appeal to Article 8 was unsubstantiated, and ruled that the Russian national’s rights will not be violated by deportation.

Russia’s Supreme Court dismisses appeal over Bashneft stock forfeiture

Russia’s Supreme Court has turned down the appeal against the ruling ordering AFK Sistema to forfeit oil producer Bashneft’s stock, according to the statement posted on the court’s website on Thursday. The appeal was turned down without reviewing it, citing procedural violations and missing paperwork to validate the appeal . Earlier, an unnamed individual appealed the Moscow Commercial Court ruling, that ordered AFK Sistema to forfeit its accumulated stock of oil producer Bashneft to the state. The court’s statement reads that the applicant, starting in 2012, filed more than four dozen cassation appeals in economic and civil trials. They all have been returned without review. In most cases, the court based the dismissals on the applicant’s inability to prove his stake in any given case. Bashneft was privatized in 2009. It was controlled by the government of Russia’s Bashkortostan region until 2003, when a major stake was sold to companies affiliated with Ural Rakhimov, son of the former head of Bashkortostan Murtaza Rakhimov. In 2009, Russian oil-to-telecoms conglomerate AFK Sistema gained control of the company. Investigators opened a criminal case last April linked to deals with Bashneft shares in 2002 to 2009. Rakhimov and billionaire Vladimir Yevtushenkov were implicated in the sale of Bashneft stock in 2009. Rakhimov was charged in absentia with embezzlement and money laundering, put on the international wanted list. Yevtushenkov, the board chairman and largest beneficiary of AFK Sistema, stands charged with money laundering.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

US: Russia Fuels War in Ukraine

The US has accused Russia of undermining a ceasefire in Ukraine after reports of Russian troops and military hardware entering the country. The US called a meeting of the UN Security Council on Wednesday after Nato accused Russia of sending troops, artillery and air defence systems across the border into Ukraine. "The pattern is clear," Samantha Power, the US envoy to the UN, told the meeting. "Where Russia has made commitments it has failed to meet them." "Russia has negotiated a peace plan and then systematically undermined it at every step. It talks of peace but it keeps fuelling war." However, Russia's deputy ambassador to the UN, Alexander Pankin, said the Nato claims did "not reflect the situation on the ground". He accused Security Council members of a "foray into propaganda".

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

NATO: Russian Troops Enter Ukraine

Nato officials have seen Russian military equipment and Russian combat troops entering Ukraine this week, its top commander says. "Russian tanks, Russian artillery, Russian air defence systems and Russian combat troops" were sighted, US Gen Philip Breedlove said. Russia's defence ministry denied that its troops were in eastern Ukraine to help pro-Russian separatists there. However, the rebels have admitted being helped by "volunteers" from Russia. Heavy artillery fire rocked the east Ukrainian city of Donetsk, the industrial hub held by pro-Russian separatist rebels, on Wednesday morning. It was unclear whether the fire came from besieging government forces or the rebels themselves, or both. There were also reports of fighting near the rebel-held city of Luhansk. One Ukrainian soldier was killed and another injured north of Luhansk, when rebels fired on government positions near the village of Schastya, Ukrainian security forces said.