Empire Building

Posted on : 07-06-2012 | By : admin | In : Empire Building, EU ambassador, Ex-Defense Chief in Ukraine, Interfax-Ukraine, Kiev, Kremlin, Kremlin2, Michel Platini-EURO 2012 in Ukraine

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Empire Building

Empire Building

Fridman started out with a window-cleaning business as the Soviet Union collapsed, ushering in the rampant capitalism in which a few people were able to quickly build business empires.

He went on to amass a wide range of assets from the oil, banking, retail and telecoms sectors, buying up Soviet energy assets on the cheap and staking a string of wagers on the emergence of a free-spending Russian middle class.

With a fortune estimated by Forbes at $13 billion, Fridman’s Alfa Group owns a 25 percent stake in TNK-BP, a near 25 percent voting stake in mobile firm VimpelCom and just under 50 percent in leading food retailer X5. Fridman also owns 36 percent of Alfa Bank.

Fridman’s empire has become increasingly international, which some observers say reflects a desire to spread risk out of Russia. Capital flight out of Russia has been high, blamed in part on a lack of confidence in the country’s respect for property rights and on persistent, rampant corruption.

Fridman is described as intelligent, ruthless and cynical. During his tenure as CEO, TNK-BP entered Vietnam, Venezuela and Brazil. He backed VimpelCom’s costly and controversial expansion into markets such as Africa, to the chagrin of Norwegian partner Telenor, which favored a Russian-focused strategy.

In April, he agreed on a deal to sell out of MegaFon, Russia’s No. 2 phone company, which is eyeing a London IPO. Kremlin-friendly oligarch Alisher Usmanov won control in the deal and later sold an interest to a state-linked company.

Observers say Fridman may also at some point seek a sale of X5, which has struggled since the firm’s chief executive, Lev Khasis, left last year to join U.S. retail giant Wal-Mart.

“There is a general view that he seems to be looking to divest out of Russia and internationalize his business more,” said another source in the Moscow financial community. “I think he’s always wanted to do that.”

Fridman was not available to comment for this article.

Russia Likes Yemen Plan For Syria

Posted on : 07-06-2012 | By : admin | In : 2022 Winter Olympics, Cooperation, Criminal Procedure Code, Despite Russian criticism, DTEK, EU ambassador, Ex-Defense Chief in Ukraine, Interfax-Ukraine, Russia Likes Yemen Plan For Syria

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Russia Likes Yemen Plan For Syria

Russia would accept a Yemen-style power transition in Syria if it were decided by the people, a senior Russian diplomat said Thursday.
It was the latest in a series of statements seemingly aimed at distancing the Kremlin from President Bashar Assad.
The diplomat tried to deflect pressure on Moscow to help engineer Assad’s exit from power, however, saying his fate is “not a question for us” but is up to Syrians themselves.
“Application of the so-called Yemen scenario to resolve the conflict in Syria is possible only if the Syrians themselves agree to it,” Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said, Interfax reported. “The Yemen scenario was discussed by the Yemenis themselves. If this scenario is discussed by Syrians themselves and is adopted by them, we are not against it.”
The statement essentially repeats the position Moscow has maintained throughout.
Street protests against Assad that began 15 months ago have evolved into armed insurgency as he stepped up efforts to crush dissent by military might.
Two reported massacres of civilians by pro-Assad forces since May 25 have heightened Western calls for Assad to make way for a democratic transition.
The idea of using the Yemen template in Syria is the latest attempt to break a stalemate in the UN Security Council.
After a year of mass protests against his autocratic rule and increasing armed anarchy, longtime Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh ceded power in February to a transitional administration led by his vice president.
In a sign of increasing pressure on Moscow, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent a senior State Department official who works on Syria, Fred Hof, to Moscow on Thursday.
The Russian Foreign Ministry and the U.S. Embassy in Moscow declined immediate comment on the visit.
Clinton told Western and Arab nations at a meeting in Istanbul on Wednesday that a transition strategy in Syria must include Assad’s full transfer of power, a senior State Department official said.
In a statement during a visit to Beijing by Russian President Vladimir Putin, a regional security alliance led by Russia and China said it opposes military interference, forced power handovers and unilateral sanctions in dealings with Middle East states.
But Moscow has criticized Assad at times and courted his opponents, suggesting it is hedging its bets.
Analysts say Putin could be lured by or seek an orchestrated exit by Assad that could be presented as the work of the people, particularly if he doubts Assad can hang on to power for long and sees a chance of maintaining Russia’s influence.

EU ambassador

Posted on : 14-04-2012 | By : admin | In : EU ambassador

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EU ambassador

Yanukovych comes short of expectations, says EU ambassador to Ukraine.

ead of European Union Delegation to Ukraine Jose Manuel Pinto Teixeira said that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has failed to live up to expectations.

In an interview with Korrespondent magazine, the European diplomat said that Yanukovych showed a lot of promise talking about reforms and bringing order to the country through creating a strong government.

“Both Ukraine and the EU believed in him. But, unfortunately, he fell short of expectations,” the EU ambassador said.

Teixeira said he hadn’t seen any results of the fight against corruption in Ukraine: “When they are evident, I will be the first to mention them. But for the moment the situation is much worse than it was during the so-called chaotic period after the Orange Revolution.”

When asked about the effect of the prison sentences for former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko and former interior minister Yuriy Lutsenko on the EU-Ukraine relations, Teixeira said that “during the rule of the Orange team there was more freedom, more democracy, more confidence.”

“In those days, oligarchs supported various political players, so there was more room for pluralism. As for the legal system and reforms, little was done, yet the EU was ready to launch the assistance program,” he explained.

In addition, the diplomat said that he spoke to Economic Development and Trade Minister of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko about the EU program of assistance to the reforms in Ukraine worth EUR 500 million. Teixeira said that it was difficult to speak about this program yet. According to him, the European Union was willing to provide EUR 70 million for the administrative reform, but the Ukrainian parliament passed a bill which conflicts with the European standards in this area.

“Upon learning this, I met with Justice Minister Oleksandr Lavrynovych to ask him how this happened? He replied that the parliament made laws in Ukraine. Naturally, in every country parliaments pass laws. But the question is whether Ukraine is ready to adopt laws in compliance with the practice of the EU, or it will stick to its line?” the diplomat said.