Irresponsibly Freezing Russian Assets

 

Irresponsibly Freezing Russian Assets

 

French and Belgian Russian asset freezes along with extending EU sanctions through January came (not coincidentally) on day one of the 19th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).

It’s an impressive annual three-day event attracting thousands of participants – including world political and business leaders, journalists and others from dozens of countries worldwide.

The Forum’s web site states:

“SPIEF gathers the leading decision-makers of the emerging economic powers to identify and deliberate the key challenges facing Russia, emerging markets, and the world at large, while engaging communities to find common purpose and establish frameworks to forge solutions which will drive the growth and stability agenda.”

Vladimir Putin welcomed participants calling SPIEF “a platform for candid discussions to be held on a wide range of economic, financial and social issues, with long-term contracts and agreements being concluded on the sidelines.”

“The slogan for this year’s event, ‘Time to Act: Shared Paths to Stability and Growth’, reflects our strategy in the new realities of today’s global economy.”

“I firmly believe that the ideas and proposals formulated at this year’s Forum will go a long way towards improving economic cooperation and strengthening mutual trust.”

In response to EU nations extending sanctions, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia will respond based on the “principle of reciprocity” – indicating Moscow’s counter-sanctions will remain in force.

Neither side benefits. Russian Railways head Vladimir Yakunin called sanctions “economic masochism.” EU nations continue acting against their own interests by playing Washington’s dirty game – a futile attempt to marginalize, weaken, contain and isolate Russia.

In response, Moscow established closer ties with China and other nations unwilling to harm their own interests by supporting Washington’s.

France and Belgium acted irresponsibly by freezing Russian assets. French authorities targeted VTB, Russia’s second largest bank.

Diplomatic accounts were frozen, then unlocked. Rossiya Segodnya international news agency’s bank accounts were seized. The operation includes Sputnik News.

At the same time, Belgian authorities seized Russian assets – including its Embassy’s and Permanent UN Mission accounts.

The action relates to contested Russian debt former Yukos Oil owners claim they’re owed. The company declared bankruptcy after Moscow demanded it pay back taxes evaded for years.

Former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky spent more than a decade in prison (2003 – 2013) for embezzlement and tax evasion. In the 1990s, he was Russia’s richest oligarch with close ties to Kremlin bureaucrats.

In 1995, he bought Yukos assets for $300 million – a tiny fraction of their worth. In 2003, their market value was $30 billion – a 100-fold ill-gotten gain.

In July 2014, the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ordered $50 billion paid to former Yukos shareholders. It called the company “the object of a series of politically motivated attacks.”

Russia’s Justice Minister Aleksandr Konovalov said freezing Russian assets is “a blatant violation of international law.” Russia’s Foreign Ministry called Belgium’s actions “an unfriendly act…a blatant (international law) violation.” It indicated retaliatory measures may follow if what happened isn’t reversed.

Putin aide Andrey Belousov called actions by France and Belgium politicized. “Moscow hopes to avoid a new escalation in relations,” he said. At the same time, it’s “considering a number of measures to deal with” what happened if things aren’t resolved responsibly.

Last November, Moscow appealed PCA’s $50 billion Yukos decision – on grounds of lacking jurisdiction over internal Russian affairs. Without justification, the Court claimed Russia’s “primary objective…was not to collect taxes but rather to bankrupt Yukos and appropriate its valuable assets.”

Russian oligarch Khodorkovsky amassed great wealth the old-fashioned way. During an October 2008 Council to Combat Corruption session, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said:

Corruption in our nation has not simply become wide-scale. It has become a common, everyday phenomenon which characterizes the very life of our society.

We are not simply talking about commonplace bribery. We are talking about a severe illness which is corroding the economy and corrupting all society.”

According to an earlier Russian Internal Affairs Ministry estimate, annual corruption ranges from $20 – $40 billion. Other assessments indicate much greater amounts of stolen wealth – involving business, government officials and bureaucrats.

French and Belgian moves had nothing to do with alleged Moscow law violations. They were entirely politically motivated – connected to Washington’s Russia bashing agenda pressuring EU nations to do much of its dirty work against their own self-interest.

The latest moves are tied to SPIEF’s opening, nonexistent “Russian aggression” in Ukraine, its successful English and other foreign language media effectively countering Western propaganda, and America’s longstanding regime change objective.

What can’t go on forever, won’t. At least eight EU countries support lifting Russian sanctions – Austria, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Slovakia, even France.

Heavy US pressure keeps them from acting in their own self-interest – for how long remains to be seen.

Posted by Stephen Lendman

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The Andrei Stenin International Press Photo Contest

The Andrei Stenin International Press Photo Contest will be held in Moscow at Rossiya Segodnya’s initiative. The contest was named after a Rossiya Segodnya photojournalist, Andrei Stenin, who died in eastern Ukraine in August 2014. Andrei was awarded the Order of Courage (posthumously) for bravery and heroism in the performance of his professional duties. The contest is a way to remember Andrei Stenin as a wonderful professional and human being. From December 22, 2014, to June 3, 2015, experts of the photography community around the world will have a chance to bring to light new names, support and promote high standards in photojournalism and enhance quality standards in documentary photography.

THE ANDREI STENIN
INTERNATIONAL PRESS PHOTO CONTEST
The entry deadline is
11:59 pm Moscow Time on April 15, 2015.

VISIT PAGE

Nemtsov murder: Putin warned about exactly this type of “false flag” two years ago

Already in February 2012 (two years ago!) Putin was warning Russians about exactly the kind of false flag which we just saw happening with the murder of Nemtsov.  See for yourself:

Putin in 2012 – Opposition is looking to turn someone into “involuntary martyr”. Re: Nemtsov

 

 

Note: the Russian word “provocatsiia” is often translated as “provocation” which is not incorrect as long as you are aware that in Russian “provocation” can mean “false flag”, as it does in this context.  Putin is clearly warning about a false flag “sacrifice”.

This video was emergency-translated by one of our “brother in arms”, Tatzhit, to whom I am most grateful for this ultra-rapid translation.

As for the “liberal” or “democratic” “non-system” opposition it has already announced that it will convert the planned protest into a memorial rally.

Published on Feb 27, 2015

One thing needs to be kept in mind concerning the recent Nemtsov murder: he was a politician way past his prime. According to a recent Levada Center poll, most Russians didn’t even know he existed.

Moreover, as can be seen in the poll (link below), opposition leaders like Mironov, Yavlinski, Kudrin, Navalny, Ryzhnkov, Dmitrieva all scored LOWER on name recognition but HIGHER on support. Nemtsov was unpopular even among the opposition; this comes from being a Yeltsin-era politician, and hence(perhaps blamelessly) being associated with images of societal collapse and corruption.

Many even argue that Nemtsov was a “decorative” asset for Putin as a stable, familiar, relatively honest but powerless opposition figure.

In short, this is assassination makes no sense: Nemtsov as a martyr is a far, far bigger problem for Putin than he ever was alive – If not within Russia itself, where most people seem to be baffled (this is sort of like if someone assassinated Ross Perot), then on the international diplomatic and mass media stage, where people can be easily convinced Nemtsov was killed because he “was a threat to Putin”.

Three years ago, Putin warned about this exact scenario.
Who benefits? May be internal Russian opposition, Ukrainian government, American government, heck even islamic extremists – but Putin doesn’t benefit, that’s for sure.

Make your own conclusions.

Source video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-njh…

Evidence from an independent polling agency:
http://www.levada.ru/07-02-2014/uznav… (anyone still wanna parrot mainstream media claims that he was a “rising star” of Russian politics and a real threat to Putin?)

Posted by The Saker