Friday, October 14, 2011

Extradition as a form of pressure

Published on 09.10.2011 at 12:20
Victor Rezunkov
French translation

An event apparently unremarkable for Russia but quite important for Europe, and of central importance for Saint-Petersburg, took place on October 7th in the French Court of appeal of Aix-en-Provence. This court heard the case of extradition to Russia of a famous businessman from Saint-Petersburg, founder of a holding company Oslo Marine Group (OMG).

Vitaly Arkhangelsky founded Oslo Marine Group in Saint-Petersburg ten years ago, and several years later the company that dealt with port development, cargo sea transport and insurance, joined the fifty Russian fast-developed companies. However, since 2006, the company’s offices and those of its subsidiaries were subjected to police raids which, according to Vitaly Arkhangelsky, resulted from his unwillingness to employ candidates proposed by the ex-chief of GUVD of Saint-Petersburg and the region of Leningrad Vladislav Piotrovsky.

In 2008, Vitaly Arkhangelsky obtained a loan for the purchase of new ships from the bank « Saint-Petersburg » where Sergey Matvienko, the son of the ex-governor Valentina Matvienko, was a vice-president. Six months later, the bank requested him to pay the loans back. As a result, Vitaly Arkhangelsky who claimed the attempted expropriation and use of false documents had to emigrate from Russia.

So, on October 7th, the Investigation Chamber of the Court of appeal of Aix-en-Provence heard the case on extradition to Russia of Vitaly Arkhangelsky and his family. The official result will be transferred in writing, but the fact that a decision on extradition has not been taken immediately as this is usually done in French courts, demonstrates that the charges claimed by the Russian side looked at least absurd. Vitaly Arkhangelsky has no doubt about the fact that high-ranked Russian officials are involved in the prosecution against him:

– It is not a secret for anyone that “Saint-Petersburg” Bank is a bank of people who were and still are governing Saint-Petersburg. I mean, first of all, Valentina Matvienko and her son, Polukeev, Piotrovsky and the deputy public prosecutor Kikot. Their business consists of working with the bank in order to find out and analyze the financial situation of companies and then, by putting pressure on courts, police and public prosecutor’s office, expropriating businesses under the cover of duly prepared documents. This would be impossible without the use of political resource, use of the administration bodies, putting pressure on basic officials of governmental authorities, such as bailiffs of justice, public prosecutors and policemen.

Consequently, any person who develops more or less successful business should expect that very quickly, in a few days, everything that he gained taken by force in a way which is absolutely lawful from the viewpoint of Russian legislation. I became a victim of this situation. However, one should understand that this situation is possible only in Russia and that international law provides for possibilities for resolving such cases of expropriation, raiders?, of obtaining damages and so on; actually I am actively involved in this process. All these people have numeral bank accounts and assets abroad. I have already succeeded in finding many of them, and many are being searched for. I am sure that, within the framework of court hearings taking place in Europe, I will be able to get back the funds that they laundered, transformed in cash and hid abroad.

Lev Ponomarev, the executive director of all-Russian civil movement « for Human Rights » and the lawyer of Vitaly Arkhangelsky, compares his story with these of other Russian businessmen, Sergey Magnitsky, Natalia Gelevitch and others. When Vitaly Arkhangelsky obtains new documents concerning foreign assets of high-ranked St. Petersburg officials, in particular, of the governor Valentina Matvienko and her family members, Radio Svoboda will present them to its listeners and the visitors of its site.

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