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Putin in the dock

#1
European hostility to Putin is not merely rhetorical. In fact, public statements by European leaders are often conciliatory, such as when French President Nicolas Sarkozy telephoned Putin to congratulate him on his party’s victory in the recent parliamentary elections. But actions speak louder than words: Putin’s government is currently the target of a multiplicity of very serious legal actions in major European courts which could result in undermining his ability to govern.

This coming November, an arbitration proceeding will commence in The Hague, Netherlands, before a panel of three respected international jurists. At issue are claims against the Russian government for illegal nationalization of corporate assets, bilking foreign investors in the now-defunct YUKOS oil company to the tune of $100 billion. Understandably, they want their money back.

http://pajamasmedia.com/2008/01/putin_in_the_dock.php

msr
 
#2
I don't think that foreign investors will get any money back. Proceedings like these can take forever, and the rulings are difficult to enforce, as I don't see the EU imposing economic sanctions on Russia. Also, Putin made an example of the Yukos oil affair, and it served to show that the state power is above the power of money or of individuals who control the economy. During Eltsin's time, the power of the Russian state was weakened by the arrival of these rich "entrepreneurs", who could buy anything and anybody with their money, including army or mvd units with full kit to work for them. On one occasion Eltsin's presidential guard went to arrest an "entrepreneur", and found itself facing another mvd unit, who was working for said "entrepreneur". It was a chaotic and dangerous situation, and with Yukos, Putin put an end to it, by showing that even the richest man in Russia can find himself overnight in Siberia.
 
#3
http://pajamasmedia.com/2008/01/putin_in_the_dock.php

Under the 1994 Energy Charter Treaty, compensation must be paid to investors whenever a country’s energy assets are nationalized in a manner inconsistent with fundamental national law. Russia is a signatory to the treaty, and though it has not formally ratified the document the ECT contains provisions making it applicable to signatories.
http://www.encharter.org/fileadmin/user_upload/document/EN.pdf

ARTICLE 44
ENTRY INTO FORCE

(1) This Treaty shall enter into force on the ninetieth day after the date of deposit of the thirtieth instrument of rati?cation, acceptance or approval thereof, or of accession thereto, by a state or Regional Economic Integration Organization which is a signatory to the Charter as of 16 June 1995.
http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/10/20/news/eu.php

President Vladimir Putin of Russia on Friday rejected EU demands that Russia ratify an energy charter liberalizing parts of its energy sector and dismissed accusations that Russia was using its vast energy sources as a foreign policy tool.
 
#4
KGB_resident,

Is this your round-about way of saying that Russia cannot be trusted to stick to the international agreements that it signs?

I mean, they sign an internationally agreed document, then deliberately avoid ratifying it domestically, and then when the boomerang starts to head back towards them, they use the lack of domestic ratification to justify non-compliance.


You know, I only clicked on this link thinking I'd see a paparazzi picture of sombody pushing Putin over the edge whilst viewing some rusting fishing trawlers!!!
 
#5
Hi Whitecity!

whitecity said:
KGB_resident,

Is this your round-about way of saying that Russia cannot be trusted to stick to the international agreements that it signs?

I mean, they sign an internationally agreed document, then deliberately avoid ratifying it domestically, and then when the boomerang starts to head back towards them, they use the lack of domestic ratification to justify non-compliance.
I don't see any violation of international law here. A signature under agreements that require ratification is no more that intention to enter the agreement that may be or may be not finaly ratified.

For example, Russia has signed Kyoto protocol but ratified it quite recently. And it could not be ratified without any violation of international law.

Let's look as one historical example. The UK signed and ratified the 4th Hague convention about laws and customs of war. Among many other things it contained a prohibition to use poison or poisoned weapons.

http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/lawofwar/hague04.htm#art23

Art. 23.
In addition to the prohibitions provided by special Conventions, it is especially forbidden -

To employ poison or poisoned weapons;
However, during ocupation of Mesopotamia British forces used mustard gas.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,939608,00.html

the RAF had employed mustard gas against Bolshevik troops in 1919, while the army had gassed Iraqi rebels in 1920 "with excellent moral effect".

Churchill was particularly keen on chemical weapons, suggesting they be used "against recalcitrant Arabs as an experiment". He dismissed objections as "unreasonable". "I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes [to] spread a lively terror " In today's terms, "the Arab" needed to be shocked and awed. A good gassing might well do the job.
That time the UK was in the state of war with Turkey (Ottoman Empire) and local rebels could be regarded as irregular Ottoman forces. And taken into account that

Article 1.

The laws, rights, and duties of war apply not only to armies, but also to militia and volunteer corps
At least from formal point of view the UK violated the 4th Hague convention. But...

Art. 7.
The present Convention shall come into force, in the case of the Powers which were a party to the first deposit of ratifications, sixty days after the date of the proc?s-verbal of this deposit
Ottoman Epmpire signed the convention but it has not been rafified.

Art. 2.
The provisions contained in the Regulations referred to in Article 1, as well as in the present Convention, do not apply except between Contracting Powers, and then only if all the belligerents are parties to the Convention.
So Ottoman Empire that signed but not ratified the convention was not a 'Contracting Power'.

Returning to the Energy Charter it should be noted that it contains both profitable and unprofitable elements for Russia. In 1994 it looked as a balance was rather positive for Russia. But later it went negative. And as national interests are paramount then Russia decided not to ritify the charter.

As I understand the main problem is unclear wording of points in Energy Charter that are profitable for Russia. For example, would Gazprom have a right to buy British gas distribution networks or British government is free to ban it.

Another example.

Then Soviet foreign minister (later Georgian president and American puppet) Shevardnadze abrupty signed very unprofitable for Russia treaty about water border between the Soviet Union and the USA. The treaty require ratification that had been done by American side immediately (of course). But still the treaty has not been ratified by Russia and any time it could be claimed as invalid. According to international law simple notification is sufficient.

Still, Russia urges the USA to renegotiate the treaty but our American friends rejects such propositions. So likely later or sooner the treaty will be declared as invalid by Russia. And, note, without any violation of international law.

Btw, the USA (relatively recently) decided to withdraw from the treaty about anti-ballistic missiles systems. Again, intretanionl law was not violated. All countries (except some with puppet regimes) act mainly in own national interests.
 
#7
Joe_Squad said:
I think it's clear KGB blokey has a very blinkered view of his homeland. Probably due to years and years of Soviet brainwash.
I dare to disagree with you dear friend. A bearded anecdote springs in mind.

What is the difference between news in the West and in the Soviet union?

In the Soviet union people know that news are propaganda. By contrast in the West people believe that propaganda is news.
 
#8
No fella, we know our politicians are all corrupt, but we don't leap to their defence. You however, by your statement also know your politicians are corrupt, but you DO leap to Russian policys' defence.
 

Biped

LE
Book Reviewer
#9
Well, I'm sorry to say that KGB-boy is arguing his case rather well. If Russia has not ratified the treaty, they are not obliged to do anything within it.
 
#10
KGB_resident said:
I don't see any violation of international law here. A signature under agreements that require ratification is no more that intention to enter the agreement that may be or may be not finaly ratified.
There is no violation of international law. I never said there was.

But here's the point. Did Russia (Putin) ever have any intention of ratifying the agreement, or was the original signing just a PR stunt to show international respectability which it had no intention of honouring? Did Russia expect others to abide by the agreement - when it suits Russia - at the same time as deliberately disregarding the content when it doesn't?

It's a trick well versed by other states too. The French have a habit of signing everything in Brussels to look like 'good' Europeans, and then simply ignore the ratification process back in Paris if they don't like the implications. This is especially true of anything to do with the CAP which could hurt French farmers!

It's a shame that you couldn't just discuss the point, rather than try and defend Mother Russia and cousin Putin by diving into your history folder on ancient British broken promises. :(
 
#11
There's a joint Russian-British oil company, can't remember its name but there's billions of UK money in it. Putin might nationalise this without compensation just to p1ss us off. In fact, given the US preoccupation with the Middle East and its Presidential election, Russia may well sieze the opportunity to reassert itself in a major way on the international stage. Look out for flashpoints over Kosovo, the Baltic States, Georgia.

Meanwhile, however, China is taking over central Asia...
 

RP578

LE
Book Reviewer
#12
Whatever else Putin may have done for Russia, he has, as far as the West is concerned, made it an unpromising place to invest and do business in. He (and from the impression that KGB_resident gives most Russians agree with him) views any foreign presence in Russia, be it commercial or cultural, as inherently threatening and detrimental.

Personally I've seen the point in trying to make friends and do business with them. They obviously don't like or trust us, which is fair enough. We'd get a better return investing and doing business in China and India.
 

RP578

LE
Book Reviewer
#13
AndyPipkin said:
Meanwhile, however, China is taking over central Asia...
Is it? Genuinely asking. Is this political strong-arming in the manner of Russia and its neighbours, or are they assuming financial dominance?

Another one for you, do you think Russia and China's interests in Central Asia (I'm assuming Russia does still have interests there) are likely to collide or collude?
 
#14
AndyPipkin said:
There's a joint Russian-British oil company, can't remember its name but there's billions of UK money in it. Putin might nationalise this without compensation just to p1ss us off.
Are you thinking of BP-TNK. If so, you're a bit late...

Last year, BP was 'obliged' to sell it's share to Gazprom (I think - doing this from the top of my head so any corrections are welcome) for, allegedly, exactly the same amount as they had invested in the partnership! What they got back was a 'strategic marketing partnership' with Gazprom.

Edited to add:
On reflection, I don't think the deal was so clear-cut, and that Gazprom got their hands on the juicy bits they wanted, not necessarily everything!
 
#15
RP578 said:
AndyPipkin said:
Meanwhile, however, China is taking over central Asia...
Is it? Genuinely asking. Is this political strong-arming in the manner of Russia and its neighbours, or are they assuming financial dominance?

Another one for you, do you think Russia and China's interests in Central Asia (I'm assuming Russia does still have interests there) are likely to collide or collude?
Not so much Central Asia, to my mind (at least if you're thinking of all the former Soviet 'stans). They are, however, doing a lot of political schmoozing to dominate the Far East; recently they convinced Malawi to shift recognition from Taipei to Beijing, causing much embarassment to the ROK government when they sent a Minister to visit and the Malawians refused to see him. It may not mean much in financial terms, but recognition by other governments is big political capital - especially when you claim to be the legitimate government of a far larger neighbour.

Russian & Chinese interests have collided ever since the 17th Century. Basically, one the Tsars started expanding their rule east, competition for resources began. The tactics used are a mix of the subtle and deliberately anything but. Joint military exercises with the US and India seem to me to be deliberately poking Russian paranoia with a stick likewise PLA exercises up near the border have stepped up in recent years, both in scale and sophistication and despite the overall reduction in troop numbers.

All of which allows Putin to present Russia as a poor beleaguered innocent and anything he does (seizing assets, expulsions, etc.) to counter the nasty aggressors from 'outside' can be more easily sold to the domestic audience.
 
#16
whitecity said:
KGB_resident said:
I don't see any violation of international law here. A signature under agreements that require ratification is no more that intention to enter the agreement that may be or may be not finaly ratified.
There is no violation of international law. I never said there was.

But here's the point. Did Russia (Putin) ever have any intention of ratifying the agreement, or was the original signing just a PR stunt to show international respectability which it had no intention of honouring?
The Energy Charter was signed in 1994, long ago enough. Corrupted Yeltisin's goverment overcrowded by American puppets signed it to please their real masters. That time mr.Putin was not known in Russia (moreover abroad) as a prominent politiican. He was only an official in the administration of city of St.-Peterburg.

As for ratification then in 1993 pres.Yeltsin ordered to fire on Russian parliaments from tanks. After it, new parliamentary elections were held and pro-Yeltsin 'Democratic Russia' failed. It got only 10% of votes. Rivals of pres.Yeltsin had a majority and even tried to impeach him. Of course a ratification of the Charter was not even regarded (as it had been seen highly unprofitable for Russia).

whitecity said:
Did Russia expect others to abide by the agreement - when it suits Russia - at the same time as deliberately disregarding the content when it doesn't?
Russia hasn't ratified the Charter, so it is not binded by it in any way. Other countries may or may not follow it. For Russia it is irrelevant, as it is not a party of the agreement from legal point of view.

Russia signed but not ratified an agreement? It is not something special. Western countries do the same thing.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7139889.stm

Russia has formally suspended its participation in a key arms control agreement dating from the Cold War.

The Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty sets limits on troops and weaponry across Europe.

The suspension means Russia can move troops without notifying Nato. The bloc voiced "deep regret" over the move.
...
The CFE treaty was signed by Western and former Warsaw Pact states in 1990, but was revised in 1999 to take account of former Soviet satellites joining Nato.

However the alliance - unlike Russia - has refused to approve the updates until Moscow pulls its remaining troops out of Georgia and Moldova.
So the Soviet union ratified adaptations to CFE treaty. Western countries signed the modified agreement but still haven't ratified it. So all your arguments can be applied to the West. One could suppose that NATO countries signing the agreement knew at the moment that they really would not follow it.

Also NATO countries in UNSC voted for the resolution that affirm status of Kosovo as a part of Yugoslavia. But really, it looks as at the moment they decided to create independent state in Kosovo.

whitecity said:
It's a trick well versed by other states too. The French have a habit of signing everything in Brussels to look like 'good' Europeans, and then simply ignore the ratification process back in Paris if they don't like the implications. This is especially true of anything to do with the CAP which could hurt French farmers!

It's a shame that you couldn't just discuss the point, rather than try and defend Mother Russia and cousin Putin by diving into your history folder on ancient British broken promises. :(
As I understand we are discussing the issue.

My points:

1. National interests are paramount.
2. The Energy Charter is not in Russian interests in the current form.
3. The Charter was signed by corrupted Yeltsin regime.
4. Putin's regime is also corrupted but not to extent to betray key national interests.
5. Agreements that are signed but not ratified is not something special. All countries do it.
 
#17
Joe_Squad said:
No fella, we know our politicians are all corrupt, but we don't leap to their defence. You however, by your statement also know your politicians are corrupt, but you DO leap to Russian policys' defence.
Mate, feel the difference between their [politicians] defence and policys' defence.

Indeed I think that unlike Yeltsin period Russian policy become more selfish, more pragmatic, more independent. It is rather good from my point of view and likely bad from your one. I don't urge you to change your mind. Moreovere, I understand pretty well reasons why many in the West mainly dislike mr.Putin, Russian external policy.

As for Russian politicians then I would not defend them (including mr.Putin) with one exception - Russian FM mr.Lavrov is highly intelligent professional. He is somebody who (from my point of view) should be the new Russian president.
 
#18
There is a congent lesson to fall out of this.

Unless you want to play Russian Roulette with your investments, Russia is NOT the place to trust your money. Investors need to trust the State and Russian nationalism is beginning to feel a little rabid for my liking.
 

RP578

LE
Book Reviewer
#19
in_the_cheapseats said:
There is a congent lesson to fall out of this.

Unless you want to play Russian Roulette with your investments, Russia is NOT the place to trust your money. Investors need to trust the State and Russian nationalism is beginning to feel a little rabid for my liking.
Exactly, whatever Putin et al gain from such behaviour, they must surely realise how short-termist this is.

smartascarrots said:
Joint military exercises with the US and India seem to me to be deliberately poking Russian paranoia with a stick likewise PLA exercises up near the border have stepped up in recent years, both in scale and sophistication and despite the overall reduction in troop numbers.
Ah smartascarrots, thought the word "China" would bring you in! :D
Has China replaced Russia in India's martial affections? Russia was India's principal ally for decades. Is all forgotten & forgiven vis-a-vis 1962? More to the point are China and Pakistan still military allies?
 
#20
AndyPipkin said:
There's a joint Russian-British oil company, can't remember its name but there's billions of UK money in it. Putin might nationalise this without compensation just to p1ss us off. In fact, given the US preoccupation with the Middle East and its Presidential election, Russia may well sieze the opportunity to reassert itself in a major way on the international stage. Look out for flashpoints over Kosovo, the Baltic States, Georgia.

Meanwhile, however, China is taking over central Asia...
Hi Andy!

The joint Russian-British oil company is TNK-BP. British Petroleum has 50% stake in the company. It's oil output is 1.5 mln barrels per day. It is a huge number. Compare oil consumption of the whole USA is 20 mlns. barrels per day.

5 years ago BP managed to buy 50% stake for $6 bln. Now barrel of oil cost something like $90. Let count the cost of year oil output of TNK-BP

365*1.5*90= (approximately) $50,000 mln = $50 bln.

So the purchase was highly profitable. But how BP managed to buy so profitable assets so cheaply?

Initially TNK was state owned. In 90's Russian Alpha group (Fridman, Aven, Vekselberg) 'privatised' 50% of the company for simbolic price. In 1999 remaining 50% were 'privatised' by Alpha group for $130mln. Btw, mr.Putin was a PM that time and he signed so called 'privatisation'. It coub be said in his defence that he was not real decision maked in 1999. However, mr.Putin took part in the theft (lets use true name for this affair).

Later thieves from Alpha group realised that (in fact) stolen property should be resold. And a buyer for the stolen property was founded - BP.

So as for so called 'investments' then they were investments in the pockets of the thieves.
 

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