Vladimir Putin confiscated the assets of two foreign energy companies operating in Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting of the Presidential Council for the Development of Local Self-Government via video conference at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, Russia. April 20, 2023. Sputnik/Gavriil Grigorov/Kremlin via REUTERS/File (SPUTNIK/)

The Russian President, Vladimir Putinsigned a decree to place the foreign shares of two energy companiesthe Russian subsidiaries of Unipro and Fortumlow external administration due to the “unfriendly” actions of Germany and Finland.

The decree, published last night, designates the Russian Federal Agency for State Property Management (Rosimushchestvo) as the external administrator of the share of the 83.73% which the German government indirectly owns in Unipro and the 98% which the Finnish company Fortum controls in the Russian division of the same name.

Putin made the decision due to the “need to take urgent measures” to answer the illegal actions of the United States and other countriesin connection with the seizure of property of Russia, its enterprises and citizens.

Russian property and assets of entities from those nations will be placed under temporary receivership in the event of such steps. “unfriendly” or if there is a “threat to national, economic, energy or other security and to the defense capabilities of the country.

The decree contains a list of assets placed under external management: the German and Finnish stakes in Unipro and Fortum.

Finnish energy company Fortum, at its headquarters in Espoo, Finland July 17, 2018. Picture taken July 17, 2018. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/File
Finnish energy company Fortum, at its headquarters in Espoo, Finland July 17, 2018. Picture taken July 17, 2018. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/File (Ints Kalnins/)

In February, the United States Secretary of the Treasury, Janet Yellenaffirmed that Russia should assume the costs of damage caused by his war against Ukraineand added that, however, there were “significant legal hurdles” to confiscate major frozen Russian assets.

The chief executive of state bank Bank VTB PAO had said on Monday that Russia should consider taking over and managing the assets of foreign companies such as Fortum, returning them only when sanctions are lifted.

The real estate agency of the federal government rosimushchestvo indicated that more foreign companies could find their assets under temporary Russian control, according to TASS. The agency would ensure that assets were managed according to their importance to the economy.

“The decree does not refer to property issues and does not deprive owners of their assets. External management is of a temporary nature and means that the original owner no longer has the right to make management decisions,” reported the agency quoted by TASS.

(With information from EFE and Reuters)

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