US envoy in Russia skips key event

Jon Huntsman Jr. (REUTERS)
Updated 25 May 2018
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US envoy in Russia skips key event

  • Vekselberg predicted Washington and Moscow would get past their crisis in relations eventually
  • Russian denies any interference and the Trump White House denies collusion with Moscow

MOSCOW: US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman Jr. stayed away from an event on Friday that would have required him to be in the same room as Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian metals tycoon subject to US sanctions.
Huntsman had initially been scheduled to be part of a panel discussion on US-Russian business ties as part of the St. Petersburg investment forum, a Kremlin-backed annual showcase for the Russian economy.
Vekselberg was on the panel of speakers at the session on Friday along with US and Russian business executives, but the ambassador was not there.
Asked why he was absent, the US Embassy in Moscow referred questions to the State Department in Washington. It did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment. Reuters
One of the panelists, Russian foods tycoon David Yakobashvili, said of Huntsman: “Unfortunately he is not here, but I am sure he is here in spirit.” Reuters


US State Department imposes visa ban on several DRCongo officials

Updated 22 June 2018
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US State Department imposes visa ban on several DRCongo officials

  • The visa ban comes after the US Treasury sanctioned Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler on June 15, who it said had amassed a fortune through corrupt mining and oil deals in the DRC, using his close friendship with Kabila
  • Several senior Congolese officials involved in corruption travel frequently to the US, so the visa ban is an important step

WASHINGTON: The United States said on Thursday it had imposed visa bans on several senior officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo for corruption tied to the country’s electoral process to send a “strong signal” about the need for a peaceful transfer of power.
Washington declined to identify the individuals, saying it was not obligated to reveal them based on “foreign policy considerations.”
“Today’s actions send a strong signal that the US government is committed to fighting corruption, to supporting credible elections that lead to DRC’s first peaceful and democratic transfer of power,” the State Department said.
The move comes before elections scheduled in DRC for Dec. 23. There are concerns, however, that President Joseph Kabila, who succeeded his assassinated father Laurent in 2001, could delay the vote to seek a third elected term.
The visa ban comes after the US Treasury sanctioned Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler on June 15, who it said had amassed a fortune through corrupt mining and oil deals in the DRC, using his close friendship with Kabila.
Sasha Lezhnev, deputy policy director at the nonprofit rights group Enough Project called Thursday’s visa ban an important step “to dissuade Kabila from putting his name on the ballot and help ensure a credible election.”
“Several senior Congolese officials involved in corruption travel frequently to the US, so the visa ban is an important step,” said Lezhnev. “They or the businesses they partner with also use US banks to process corrupt commercial deals, so the US and EU should enact stronger sanctions on their corporate networks to target their assets.”