Monday, July 18, 2011

Navalny Crusade Against Transneft Grinds to a Halt

Russian authorities appear to have stymied Alexei Navalny's crusade against Transneft by ignoring him. On February 17, a lower court ordered Transneft to turn over minutes from its board meetings in 2009 and 2010 to Navalny, a minority shareholder. Transneft appealed the decision, and lost. On April 21, the Ninith Arbitration appeal court ordered Transneft to turn over the minutes within 30 days. A review of the media, however, does not show that this has occured.

Indeed, while various organs of the state opened criminal charges against Navalny for everything from abuse of influence to desecration of a state symbol, Transneft remains intransient. Transneft President Nikolai Tokarev was scornful in his comments: "We do not disclose things to crooks, and we have no intention of doing so," he told Izvestia (according to AFP). "The issues we work with often represent state secrets...and the information sought by Navalny also poses a state secret." Tokarev said he would abide by the court order, but "we will try to avoid disclosing the documents within the framework of the law." More ominously, he said that Transneft would not turn anything over to Navalny and, if a court ruling did not suffice, "we will have to look at what other resources we can use so that we have nothing to do with this person," according to Reuters.

Tokarev alleged that Navalny is being supported by the United States. Using rather crude language, the Moscow Times reported he said, "This man is being licked by Madeleine Albright's National Democratic Institute."

Since May, there has been nothing in the press concerning the Transneft suit. It would appear that the company has decided that if they do nothing and ignore the court, there will be no consequences.