Arrest Of US Investor ‘Should Not Affect Investment Climate’ – Kremlin

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. Photo: SERGEI KARPUKHIN / POOL / AFP

 

The Kremlin on Monday said the arrest of a major US investor on fraud charges should “not affect the investment climate” in Russia.

A Moscow court at the weekend placed Michael Calvey, founder of the multi-billion-dollar investment fund Baring Vostok Capital Partners (BVCP), in custody until at least April 13.

Calvey and five others are awaiting trial on charges they embezzled 2.5 billion rubles ($37.7 million). He says the charges have been fabricated for use in a shareholder battle.

“We are very closely following developments in the situation and we hope that this will not at all affect — and should not affect — the investment climate,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

“Of course, we have been well aware of Michael’s investment activities in the Russian market over many years,” Peskov told journalists, declining to comment on the specifics of the case.

Authorities detained four Baring Vostok employees on Friday, including French national Phillipe Delpal.

Two other suspects include a former fund employee and someone at another firm mentioned in the probe. All six are now under pre-trial arrest.

In a statement Saturday, Baring Vostok said the claims made against its employees “have no merit”.

The case has drawn comparisons to other high-profile probes against foreign investors in Russia, notably one against Bill Browder and the Hermitage Capital fund.

Calvey argued in court that the probe is a bid to exert pressure on him amid a shareholder conflict within Vostochniy Bank, which he is trying to resolve in a London arbitration court.

The charges against him are intended to “pressure Baring Vostok to drop its arbitration claims in London or to obstruct the new share emission of Vostochniy Bank,” the Baring Vostok statement said.

Investigators say that in 2017 a firm controlled by Calvey owed 2.5 billion rubles to Vostochniy Bank and paid the debt with a 59.9 percent stake in the Luxembourg company International Financial Technology Group (IFTG), which was valued at three billion rubles.

The investigators allege that IFTG’s real value was only 600,000 rubles.

Russia Denies Claims Of Possessing Compromising Material About Trump

Russia Denies Claims Of Possessing Compromising Material About TrumpRussia has denied claims that its intelligence agencies have compromising materials about Donald Trump.

The President’s Spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, described the allegations as “pulp fiction” and a “clear attempt to damage relations”.

The unsubstantiated, claims his presidential campaign secretly communicated with Moscow.

They also say Russia has information about Trump, involving prostitutes; a report which he has denied.

“Fake New – A total Political Witch Hunt!”, the president-elect tweeted.

Later on Wednesday, he had also stated via twitter that: “Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I have nothing to do with Russia – No deals, no loans, Nothing!”.

Mr Trump is due to hold a news conference on Wednesday, nine days before he takes office, explaining his attempts to separate himself from his business commitments, and address concerns about conflicts of interest.

 

Russia Suspends All Flights To Egypt

Russia AirlineRussia’s President, Vladimir Putin, on Friday ordered the suspension of all Russian passenger flights to Egypt until the cause of a deadly plane crash at the weekend was established.

An Airbus A321, operated by a Russian carrier, crashed on Saturday over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. All 224 people on board were killed.

Putin’s decision followed decisions by Britain and others to suspend flights to and from Sharm al-Sheikh, the Egyptian resort where the downed Russian airliner originated, may be the first sign that Moscow is attaching credibility to the theory that Islamist militants somehow planted a bomb on the aircraft.

Guarantee Flight Safety

However, the Kremlin said the decision did not mean the crash was caused by a terrorist attack.

The Kremlin has said it is too early to say what caused the crash and that all theories, including the possibility of technical failure, should be examined by the official investigation. Egypt has also said it is too early to conclude a blast had brought down the plane.

Reuters reports that Putin acted after Alexander Bortnikov, the head of Russia’s FSB security service, recommended that Russia suspend all passenger flights to Egypt until it knew exactly what caused the crash.

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters that “he head of state agreed with these recommendations”.

He said the government would find a way to bring Russians back home and would open talks with Egyptian authorities to guarantee flight safety.

A Sinai-based group affiliated with Islamic State, the militants who have seized swathes of Iraq and Syria, has claimed responsibility for the crash, which, if confirmed, would make it the jihadist organization’s first attack on civil aviation.

John Kerry Meets Russian President On Ukraine Crisis

RussianU.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, met Russian President, Vladimir Putin, on Tuesday, to probe Russia’s willingness to curb its involvement in Ukraine crisis and its backing of Syria’s President.

This was the highest-level U.S. visit to Russia since the Ukraine crisis began in the autumn of 2013.

The west accused Russia of arming rebels in eastern Ukraine and sending its troops there, a claim Moscow denied.

Kerry also met Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, for over four hours before he sat with President Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

While they were expected to discuss issues including the Iran nuclear talks, Yemen and Libya, the tour seemed planned to maintain contact, given that U.S.-Russian relations are at their lowest ebb since the Cold War.

“It’s important for us to keep these lines of communication open. It’s important to try to talk to the senior decision maker.

“We have a lot of business that we could do together if there is interest,” said a senior U.S. State Department official.

President Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, called the visit a “positive step”, noting that the Russian President was prepared for “extensive” discussions at the meeting.

“Through dialogue, it is possible to find ways for a normalisation, closer coordination in dealing with international problems,” Peskov told reporters before the talks began. “Russia was never the initiator of this cooling of relations,” he added.

More than 6,000 people have been killed since fighting began in April 2014 between Ukrainian government forces and Russian-backed rebels in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

The conflict was subsequent to Russia’s takeover of the Crimean Peninsula in Southern Ukraine.

Ukraine Crisis: Rebels Agree On Weapon Pullout Date

ukraineRebels in Eastern Ukraine have agreed to begin to pull back heavy weapons from the front-line, a Russian general involved in implementing a truce says.

Gen Alexander Lentsov said the pro-Russian rebels had signed the orders to complete the withdrawal over the next two weeks, starting from Sunday.

It is not clear whether the move will be reciprocated by Ukraine.

This comes as Ukraine and the separatists exchanged 191 prisoners, a key part of the Minsk ceasefire deal.

It was the first step carried out successfully under the terms of the February15 agreements signed in the Belarusian capital, brokered by France and Germany.

The exchange came as US Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington was considering “serious sanctions” against Russia following breaches of the truce, and that a decision would be made in the coming days.

Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said sanctions would not help solve Ukraine’s crisis.

Meanwhile, thousands of Ukrainians – as well as a number of European leaders – are expected to take part in a “dignity march” in the capital Kiev on Sunday, remembering the victims of sniper fire during protests last February.

Nearly 5,700 people have died since the fighting erupted last April Ukraine’s Eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Gen Lentsov, a Russian member of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-operation (JCCC), said: “We have designated February 22 the “D-Day” as determined by the agreement from all sides. So from Sunday we will within the period of 14 days observe the agreement on the pullback of heavy weapons.”

He said the leaders of the self-proclaimed rebel Luhansk and Donetsk people’s republics had already signed the orders.

“We hope for Kiev’s participation and help first and foremost,” the general added.

The pullout process had been due to start last Tuesday and completed by March 3, but Gen Lentsov said it would now be March7.

Ukraine and rebel forces accuse each other of multiple breaches of the truce, and there were reports of violations around Donetsk and the port city of Mariupol on Saturday.

The rebels took the strategic transport hub of Debaltseve during the week in spite of the ceasefire, arguing the truce did not apply to the flashpoint town, forcing government troops to retreat.