Recent news roundup

Ministers will block Gazprom move on UK (The Observer/Guardian)

The government has given its strongest indication yet that it would block an attempt by the Russian energy group Gazprom to take a significant stake in a UK energy company.

Putin puts policy bluntly to EU (The Chicago Tribune)

VOLZHSKY UTYOS, Russia — President Vladimir Putin, emboldened by Russia’s vast oil and natural gas wealth, bluntly rejected European criticism of his crackdown on political foes, saying Friday that “like it or not,” Russia’s Western neighbors would have to accept it as a partner.

“Both Russia and the EU are interested in the development of relations with each other, and they will develop whether we like it or not,” Putin said apparently referring to Europe’s growing reliance on Russian energy resources.

EU must see Putin is not a democrat (The Telegraph)

Putin and Merkel at the conference…As EU leaders met for the second day of a summit with Mr Putin in Samara, a city in the Urals, Mr Kasparov and 26 activists and western reporters were detained in Moscow after allegations that their tickets were forged meant they missed their flight.

…Members of the pro-Kremlin youth wing Nashi, dressed in white coats and presenting themselves as medical orderlies, handed out leaflets suggesting that Mr Kasparov was deranged.

After more than five hours – minutes after the last flight to Samara had departed – the group was released. A police official at the airport reportedly blamed a computer problem that meant Mr Kasparov and his companions could not be issued with a ticket.

Russia sues US bank; laundering case cited (New York Times)

The Federal Customs Service of Russia is seeking $22.5 billion in damages from the Bank of New York Company over accusations of money laundering in the 1990s.

The bank “committed violations of Russian law that resulted in damages of $22.5 billion to the state” from 1996 to 1999, Maxim Smal, a lawyer for the service, said by phone after filing the lawsuit in the Moscow Arbitration Court yesterday. Andrei Stukov, head of the Customs Service’s legal department, confirmed the amount of damages sought, via a spokeswoman.

Mr. Smal said the suit was “almost entirely based” on an investigation in the United States that ended in 2005 with the bank agreeing to pay $38 million to settle two criminal investigations and admitting it failed to report $7 billion in suspicious Russian transactions. The American investigation “uncovered very serious violations,” Mr. Smal said, but he declined to elaborate, saying more details will be revealed today at a news conference in Moscow.


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