Russian oil expert detained at Kiev’s request in Greece, lawyer calls arrest ‘politicized’

Russian oil expert detained at Kiev’s request in Greece, lawyer calls arrest ‘politicized’
A Russian national has been arrested in Greece and faces extradition to Ukraine on tax-crime charges. His lawyer said he is being persecuted for supporting the former Ukrainian president who was ousted in a Western-backed coup.

Evgeny Kalinin, a Russian energy expert, was arrested by the Greek authorities at Athens International Airport on Thursday, his lawyer, Yannis Rahiotis, told Sputnik.

Kalinin is a well-known oil industry expert, Rahiotis said, noting that his client was on a routine business trip to the country at the time. Kalinin appeared in court on Friday, when he was sent to prison until Ukraine’s extradition request is delivered to Athens.

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According to Rahiotis, Kalinin faces unspecified tax-crime charges, which allegedly arise from his past work as a top executive in Ukraine’s oil company.

Kalinin served as vice president of TNK-BP Commerce, a Kiev-based company that specializes in producing and selling crude oil products in Ukraine and Russia, until 2011. The company, which was founded in 2003, also operates a network of gasoline and filling stations in Ukraine.

While the essence of the charges Kalinin is facing are not yet clear, Rahiotis believes they are politically motivated. The lawyer pointed out that Kalinin’s name has been included in a database of the notorious Ukrainian website Mirotvorets (Peacekeeper). The ultra-nationalist site contains a blacklist of ‘traitors’ who it says must be dealt with. On the list, Kalinin has found himself in the company of such big foreign political names as former German chancellor Gerhard Shroeder, who was added to the ‘hit-list’ in November, prompting the German Foreign Ministry to reprimand Kiev for not taking down the website. 

“This case is a political one. Kalinin is included into the Mirotvorets list. He is being persecuted because he was a supporter of former president Victor Yanukovich,” Rahiotis said.

Russian diplomats have been in contact with Kalinin, and have been providing him “with all necessary consular assistance,” the Russian Embassy in Greece said, as cited by Sputnik.

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Kalinin’s arrest has already drawn condemnation from a senior Russian lawmaker.

The deputy head of the Russian Senate Defense and Security Committee, Franz Klintsevich, has said that by playing into the Kiev’s hands, Athens is undermining its centuries-old relationship with Russia, which has traditionally been an ally.

“It’s still not late to stop. Russia will do everything to free Evgeny Kalinin,” he wrote on Facebook.

Another State Duma MP, Natalia Poklonskaya, argued that Kalinin’s arrest is likely to be politicized and exploited in the ongoing Ukrainian presidential campaign. She also warned Greece against becoming a pawn in a third party’s hands by simply following formal legal guidelines.

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