Friday, 22 June 2018

iRozhlas.cz: Czech aviation firm on US list of Russian oligarchs

ČTK |
6 March 2018

Prague, March 5 (CTK) - The main owner of Aircraft Industries, the biggest Czech civilian planes producer, figures on the list of influential Russian oligarchs of whom the U.S. Department of State warned recently, Czech Radio's server iRozhlas.cz reported on Monday, referring to Russian entrepreneur Iskander Makhmudov.

Makhmudov has been controlling the company, whose former name was Let Kunovice, via the UGMK metallurgic concern since 2013.

Aircraft Industries has been supplying services to the Czech military, among others.

It has not commented on its majority owner's name on the U.S. list, the server said.

The U.S. Department of State released the list of influential politicians and oligarchs linked to the Kremlin in late January based on a law on sanctions imposed on Russia over its having interfered in the U.S. elections in 2016, its violation of human rights and its annexation of Crimea.

Washington says the list should discourage allies, including those in NATO, from seeking contracts with the Russian armament industry.

The "blacklist" implies no sanctions, but it may thwart the involved oligarchs' business in the West.

The Czech Defence Ministry has a framework contract with Aircraft Industries for the servicing and operational support for its eight L-410 planes worth more than 150 million crowns.

"The framework contract for the period of 2016-2021 has been fulfilled smoothly," ministry spokeswoman Jana Zechmeisterova told Czech Radio.

The Defence Ministry is aware of the circumstances of the Aircraft Industries' ownership structure, but it leaves the comments on it up to the Foreign Ministry.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Michaela Lagronova said the list is connected with the U.S. domestic legislation only and therefore poses no limit [for Prague].

The Czech Financial Analytical Office, working within the Finance Ministry, plans to deal with the business activities and bank transactions of not only Makhmudov but also other oligarchs operating in the Czech Republic, its director Libor Kazda told Czech Radio.

He said the office has been cooperating with the counter-intelligence service BIS in this connection.

BIS spokesman Ladislav Sticha said BIS has been dealing thoroughly with the U.S. information about influential Russian businesspeople.

"The USA is one of our most important allies and its information is always crucial for the security of the Czech Republic. The [U.S.] list confirms our own information," Sticha said.

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