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17 Dec, 2018 11:31

Davos U-turn: World Economic Forum welcomes all Russian businessmen after boycott threat

Davos U-turn: World Economic Forum welcomes all Russian businessmen after boycott threat

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has backtracked on its decision to bar three Russian businessmen from next year’s meeting in Davos. The turnabout comes after Moscow threatened to boycott the year's biggest business event.

Russia will participate in January’s prestigious business and political meeting in Switzerland, the WEF announced on Sunday. Managing director and head of compliance at the organization, Alois Zwinggi, said he is pleased to learn that Moscow would be sending “a high-level governmental delegation to Davos,” his statement reads as cited by media.

READ MORE: ‘Davos billionaires want business as usual, but world’s problems need scientists & engineers’

“I am pleased that after discussions with all relevant parties, careful consideration of international legal frameworks and strong support from the Swiss government, we are able to host business and political leaders from all G20 countries,” Zwinggi said.

The official added that if the delegation from Russia includes sanctioned individuals, “all necessary measures have been undertaken to ensure that their presence would be fully compliant with current legal conditions.”

In November, the Financial Times reported that Viktor Vekselberg, the owner of Renova group, aluminum tycoon Oleg Deripaska, and the head of VTB Bank Andrey Kostin had been deemed unwelcome at the world-famous meeting and barred from the event over sanctions imposed by Washington. Russia regarded the WEF move at the time as bowing to US pressure.

The three businessmen and their companies were targeted by US sanctions in April after Washington accused them of serving the Russian government’s alleged “malign activity around the globe.”

Moscow said that such decision would only hurt the WEF rather than the targeted Russians. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev went even further, warning that a delegation from state-owned companies may boycott Davos if the trio is not allowed to attend the meeting.

However, President Vladimir Putin later said it is up to the Russian businesses to decide on their participation.

The Davos organizers’ change of heart was initially reported by Russian news outlets, citing government sources. After the news was confirmed by the WEF, another media outlet, the Bell, reported that sanctioned businessmen’s visit to Davos will have to meet some conditions. One of the requirements is reportedly to make sure that US citizens – both guests and organizers of the WEF - will abstain from any “engagement” with those individuals. The businessmen will also not be able to join any event organized by US citizens or authorities, according to the outlet, citing sources.

Also on rt.com Boycotting World Economic Forum in Davos no great loss for Russia – Putin

Moscow welcomed the decision against any “selective” treatment of Russian entrepreneurs, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday. Commenting on the reported restrictions, Peskov said the organizers of the high-profile forum are just trying to find balance between all sides.

However, it will not bother Russia much as contacts with US businesses can be “easily compensated” with business from other countries, according to Peskov.

Apart from Russia, some 50 countries are set to join the upcoming forum dubbed “Globalization 4.0: Shaping a New Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution” which is to take place from 22 to 25 January.

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