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Newswire.ca: Russian election results a warning to Canadians

TORONTO, Dec. 4 /CNW/ – “Canadians should be concerned about the recent elections in Russia which were not free, fair or democratic”, according to Robert Amsterdam a Canadian lawyer and an expert on Russian business relations.

“The result of the Russian elections was predetermined, not by the will of the public but by repression and violation of the rights of those who oppose Vladimir Putin,” he continued.
   
“In addition, there are several other emerging trends in Russia in terms of security, business relations and the rule of law that pose significant risk to Canadian interests,” said Mr. Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is the lawyer for Mikhail Khodorkovsky, former owner of the Yukos oil company, who became Russia’s most famous political prisoner after he was imprisoned on trumped up charges while the state illegally transferred the assets of his $100 billion firm to friends of the Kremlin in what many consider to be the largest theft by a government in history.

“The Yukos experience became the blueprint for the Kremlin to extract greater concessions from foreign owned firms,” said Amsterdam. “The state-owned energy giant Gazprom used regulatory authorities to intimidate Royal Dutch Shell and BP into giving up controlling stakes in large production projects in Russia.”

Gazprom is currently courting Petro-Canada to help it get into the Canadian market, including investments in potential liquefied natural gas projects and asset swaps.

The new Russian resource nationalism trend has already had an impact on Canadian interests when the Russian government moved to renegotiate uranium contracts with Cameco Corp., which resulted in a drop in the firm’s share price by about 8 per cent in just one day.

Canadians should also be concerned about the Kremlin’s surprise flag-planting stunt in international waters on the seabed under the North Pole which threatens both Canadian sovereignty and future resource development.

“The Kremlin’s actions in the Arctic are part of a broad overall effort to reassert its influence as a global power in every direction which caused energy supply panic in Europe last year, and is obstructing democracy building and human rights efforts community in the former Soviet republics and in Burma,” said Amsterdam.

The recent negotiations by Canadian Auto Parts giant Magna with multi-billionaire Kremlin loyalist Oleg Deripaska is also risky for Canadian shareholders of Magna.

“Mr. Deripaska has publicly said that he would give up ownership of his company to the Russian government at a moment’s notice if he is asked to do so,” said Amsterdam.

“The notice to Magna shareholders before the vote on the Russian arrangement warned that the deal could lead to an indirect nationalization, a move that caused an outcry from groups such as the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan,” Amsterdam concluded.

Robert Amsterdam Biography

Robert Amsterdam is a founding partner of the international law firm Amsterdam & Peroff with offices in Toronto and London. He maintains a blog on Russian politics and business issues at www.robertamsterdam.com.

For several years Amsterdam has represented Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former owner of the Yukos oil company, who became Russia’s most famouspo litical prisoner after he was imprisoned on trumped up charges while the state illegally transferred the assets of his $100 billion firm to friends of the Kremlin in what many consider to be the largest theft by a government in history.

He has handled numerous international business disputes and in a variety of emerging markets. Amsterdam has worked in Canada, the UK, Russia, Hungary, Nigeria, Venezuela, and Guatemala and is deeply experienced with politically sensitive cases.

Canadian Lawyer says Amsterdam is “one of the few lawyers in the world taking on the state when the state starts acting like a criminal.”

In 1980 he co-founded the Toronto-based law firm Amsterdam & Peroff with Dean Peroff and has represented well-known global corporations including PriceWaterhouseCoopers and the Four Seasons Hotel Group. Amsterdam has delivered speeches at organisations such as the Carnegie Endowment, the Fraser Institute and the International Commission of Jurists.

Amsterdam is a member of the Canadian, New York and International Bar Associations and earned his BA from Carleton University in Ottawa and studied law at Queens University in Ontario (LLB).

For further information: Mr. Amsterdam can be reached for further comment through: Ian Connerty, Freeman Mandel & Milne Inc, Toronto, Mobile: (416) 985-9855, Email: [email protected]; Or Gord Rosko, Freeman Mandel & Milne Inc, Edmonton, Tel: (780) 489-5049, Mobile: (780) 982-3251, Email: [email protected]

http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/December2007/04/c7571.html

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