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Leonid Bershidsky: UK Government Unfair in Picking on Mikhail Fridman

Leonid Bershidsky of Bloomberg writes it isn’t fair for the British government to block the German approved asset sale because of Fridman’s Russian passport

Mikhail Fridman

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron threatened to force Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman to sell his North Sea Energy assets unless Fridman gives him assurances.

According to Reuters, a spokesman for Cameron said, “If assurances are not supplied, we’ve set out our position and intention to act.” Fridman’s investment vehicle LetterOne acquired the assets, called Dea,  in the North Sea from Germany.

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Leonid BershidskyDea extracts oil in some British controlled areas of the North Sea, which is the reason Britain is involved. Bloomberg’s Leonid Bershidsky wants to know why the U.K. is picking on Ukranian born Mikhail Fridman, who is clearly not one of Putin’s cronies.

U.K. Energy minister Ed Davey is concerned about possible future sanctions against Fridman, but that is clearly unfair to Fridman, writes Bershidsky, since Fridman is not in Putin’s inner circle. He writes, “The bigger problem is the U.K. is being so patently unfair and is shooting itself in the foot for doing so.”

Fridman, who gives generously to Jewish causes, set up LetterOne to search for non-Russian assets. Germany agreed to the sell of Dea even though it was shortly after Ukranian separatists shot down an airliner. Yet Germany did not discriminate against Fridman because of this incident, which had nothing to do with him or his friends.

Bershidsky says the U.K. blocking the deal because of “Fridman’s Russian passport” makes no sense. “Blocking Fridman’s investment can only undermine the sanctions strategy, which makes no sense.”

Hmm…To block an investment from someone who holds a passport of a country whose policies you disagree with, although the person in question is not involved? Doesn’t that sound a bit like the anti-Israel BDS, Britain? This is coming from the political right rather than the left, but the same ideological and intellectual laziness can take various forms in the same society.



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