Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Vitaly Arkhangelsky
A further attempt to exert pressure on French judges:
Moscow reoffends following the refusal to grant its previous
extradition request

Mr. Vitaly ARKHANGELSKY, 36 years old, is president and principal shareholder of “Oslo Marine Group”, a group of companies established in 2001 in Saint-Petersburg. Mr. ARKHANGELSKY is one of the most renowned experts in the fields of reinsurance, ports and shipping, in both Russia and across Northern Europe.
Mr. ARKHANGELSKY’s group specialised in insurance/reinsurance, ports and shipping.
Following the financial crisis of 2008, the Bank of Saint-Petersburg took predatory action, fraudulently despoiling assets of the group with the assistance of the authorities, and notably with help from the ex-governor of St Petersburg, Mrs. Valentina MATVIENKA, whose son is the principal shareholder of the bank.

Mr. ARKHANGELSKY tried to defend and protect his companies, and in doing so, he and his family were subjected to both physical threats and a series of criminal prosecutions and “raids”, clearly demonstrating a phenomenon denounced by the Council of Europe as “the abusive use of the legal system for economic ends”.
From 2010 onwards, those behind the attacks on Mr. ARKHANGELSKY’s assets and companies attempted to manipulate the French judicial system, exerting pressure on him and on his wife and three children. In November 2010 the Russian authorities, working notably under the influence of the bank of Saint-Petersburg, sought the extradition of Mr. ARKHANGELSKY founded on a case that was in reality a set-up.
After his arrest in autumn 2010, Mr. ARKHANGELSKY had to be quickly released.
On 10 November 2011, the first instance chamber of the Court of Appeal of Aix-en-Provence rendered a judgment held against the request for Mr. ARKHANGELSKY’s extradition, expressing serious doubts over the fairness of the criminal trial brought against him, and to the presence of the fundamental guarantees and rights of defence that he should be entitled to. Furthermore, the Court judged that proceedings brought forward by the Russian Federation were vague, incomplete and therefore lacked credibility, and felt that inhuman or degrading treatment was not to be ruled out as a possibility in the event of extradition.
Prior to the French judgment, the Courts of the British Virgin Islands, a tax haven where directors of the bank of Saint-Petersburg transferred assets stolen from Mr. Arkhangelsky, authorised the freezing of all assets belonging to Mr. Alexandre Savelyev, principal director of the bank and of other affiliated off-shore companies, amounting to 120 million euros. 
The retaliatory action taken illustrates the ongoing judicial harassment of Mr. Arkhangelsky, whereby the Russian government, working with directors of the bank and their accomplices, notably Mrs. Matvienka, recently filed a new request for extradition, which is due to be examined by the first instance chamber of the Court of Appeal of AIX EN PROVENCE.
The findings of the Court in the judgment rendered on the 10 November, notably the uncertainty that our client will benefit from the fundamental guarantees of a fair trial in Russia, and the risk that he could be subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, evidently mean that it is highly unlikely that the extradition of our client to Russia will be granted.
Nevertheless, before the new request for extradition was initiated, Mr. Arkhangelsky’s lawyers had already seised the Minister of Justice, due to the exceptional and unprecedented circumstances of the case, and in anticipation of the imminent “reoffence” to be committed by the Russian authorities, urging the Minister to employ the utmost vigilance against this further attempt to manipulate the French judges.

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