#8 - JRL 7255
July 18, 2003
AMERICA IS NOT WORRIED ABOUT YUKOS
Its assets in Russia are under threat
The YUKOS oil company is not off the hook yet
Author: Nikolai Gorelov
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
US AMBASSADOR ALEXANDER VERSHBOW WAS INDIGNANT OVER THE YUKOS SITUATION ONLY DAYS AGO. HE EVEN DEMANDED AN EXPLANATION FROM THE RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT: WHETHER THIS WAS A POLITICAL ACTION OR NOT. THE AMBASSADOR'S LATEST STATEMENTS MAKE IT CLEAR THAT SUCH EXPLANATIONS MUST HAVE BEEN PROVIDED.
It seems that the United States has decided to disregard the anti-YUKOS campaign. US Ambassador Alexander Vershbow announced at his press conference in Vladivostok yesterday that the situation of the largest Russian oil company "cannot be an obstacle to Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization or the US Congress repealing the Jackson-Vanik amendment." Moreover, the widespread opinion in the United States is that "the matter [of YUKOS - Vremya MN] will be off the agenda in the near future." Alexander Vershbow admitted, however, that the scandal might affect the investment climate in Russia.
Vershbow was indignant over the situation with YUKOS only days ago. He even demanded an explanation from the Russian government: whether this was a political action or not. The ambassador's words in Vladivostok make it clear that such explanations must have been provided. "When any American or Russian company participates in criminal activities, it should be prosecuted by the law," the Interfax news agency quoted Vershbow as saying. "It is important, however, to make sure that no political factors or considerations are hidden behind the investigation."
The political component of the situation is withdrawing into the background even in Russia itself. Everyone YUKOS ever harmed is recalling their old grievances nowadays. Yesterday there arose the threat of what foreign investors fear most - encroachment on the assets of the largest oil company (Rospan company is the asset in question).
According to our sources, YUKOS received a copy of the "legislative enquiry to the Prosecutor General's Office". The matter concerns returning the controlling interest in Rospan International company to Gazprom (these days, 56% of Rospan is owned by YUKOS and 44% by TNK).
Neither YUKOS nor TNK (the Tyumen Oil Company) are available for comments. A source close to the latter merely told us that TNK, as a conscientious buyer of the 44% stake, might have been conned. Sources at Gazprom refused to discuss the Rospan developments.