14 Greenpeace Activists Charged With Piracy In Russia

State companies are set to reach 35 percent of profit under International Financial Reporting Standards in 2016, Svetlana Nikitina, a Finance Ministry spokeswoman, said today by phone. The draft budget on the State Dumas website shows estimated payments for 16 companies, including oil pipeline monopoly OAO Transneft, telecommunications operator OAO Rostelecom and airline OAO Aeroflot. Russia is weighing dividend increases to help attract investors and balance the budget after President Vladimir Putin pledged to boost social spending. The government is freezing price growth next year for monopolies including Gazprom and Transneft to fight inflation, while Putin today told state companies to maintain investments to pull the economy out of its slowest growth since a 2009 recession. We are disappointed and hope the government will speed up the dividend reform, Lev Snykov, a partner at Greenwich Capital in Moscow, which holds Russian stocks including Gazprom, said by phone today. The investment attractiveness of state-owned energy companies will clearly suffer should the RAS-based dividend policy remain for longer. Gazprom dropped 1.6 percent to 143.35 rubles, while Transneft sank 1.5 percent and VTB fell 1.3 percent. The government will set companies payouts on an individual basis during the transition period in 2014 and 2015, according to Nikitina. Gazprom, the worlds biggest natural gas producer and Russia s gas pipeline owner, and Transneft plan to pay out 25 percent of 2013 net income under Russian accounting standards. Gazprom said earlier this year it would switch to basing distributions on international-standard profit from 2014, after previously saying it was aiming for the 2013 financial year. A move to international standards isnt realistic before 2015 or 2016, Transneft President Nikolay Tokarev told reporters today in Astrakhan. VTB Chairman Andrey Kostin said yesterday that the bank isnt against paying out 35 percent of net income. German Gref , the head of OAO Sberbank, said last week the lender, majority owned by the central bank, would need additional capital to meet the requirement or may slow lending, according to Prime news service. Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov wasnt immediately available for comment.

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Loiko October 2, 2013, 3:02 p.m. MOSCOW Fourteen Greenpeace activists were charged with piracy Wednesday in connection with their protest at a Russian oil platform in the Arctic, an official of the environmental group said. The charges, issued by prosecutors in Murmansk, carry a sentence of up to 15 years in prison and reflect the seriousness with which Russia regards any threat to its energy industry, the foundation of its economy. They also may hint at the ascendancy of hard-liners in President Vladimir Putin ‘s Kremlin, one analyst said. Vladimir Chuprov, head of Greenpeace Arctic, said the 14 who included activists from Finland, Britain, Brazil, the United States and Russia were charged with organized group piracy. “We hoped to the last that common sense would prevail, and Russian authorities would not resort to such absurd actions, but they proved us wrong,” Chuprov said in a telephone interview. “Piracy means seizing someone’s property through a threat or an act of violence and a motive of making illegal profits from it, none of which can be applied to our activists, who were engaged in a peaceful protest against the harmful exploration of the Arctic.” The 14 were among 30 activists and crew members aboard the Greenpeace icebreaker Arctic Sunrise, which was seized by the Russian coast guard in a commando raid Sept. 19. Court proceedings for the remaining 16 people on board were expected to continue Thursday. The raid came a day after some of the activists tried to climb the side of a Russian oil-drilling platform in the Barents Sea, reportedly to hang a banner protesting drilling in the Arctic. The state Investigative Committee in Moscow said this week that the protesters had resisted coast guard officials and endangered the security of workers and property at the Prirazlomnaya oil rig, a major Arctic oil exploration project operated by a subsidiary of the state-controlled energy company Gazprom.

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