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Putin to Grant Ally Control of Moscow's No. 2 Airport

Download: Printable PDF Date: 29 Aug 2015 07:35 (UTC) category:
Putin to Grant Ally Control of Moscow's No. 2 Airport - Airports / Routes publisher
Tatjana Obrazcova
Source: Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Friday that will likely place Moscow's second-largest airport, Sheremetyevo, under the control of his businessman friend Arkady Rotenberg, an industry source said.

The decree creates a new company in which the state will own "no less than 30 percent", compared with 83 percent before. It did not name the new majority shareholder, but the source said Rotenberg and partners would exercise control through a company called TPS Avia.

According to media reports, Rotenberg, whose businesses range from infrastructure projects to telecoms, has long eyed control over Sheremetyevo. A spokeswoman for Rotenberg declined to comment.

Sheremetyevo, home to Russia's flagship airline Aeroflot , has fallen behind privately owned Moscow rival Domodedovo in terms of passenger numbers and is seen as trailing on customer service. Last year, it handled 31.6 million passengers.

Rotenberg is an old friend of Putin who was among the first Russian businessmen to be hit with Western visa bans and asset freezes after Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula last year.

The airport decree sparked an outcry among some bloggers, including Alfred Kokh, who oversaw wide-scale privatisation in the 1990s and is now a critic of Putin.

"In our time, this was called looting of state property. What happened to competition? Where is transparency? Who evaluated the state's contribution? Why exactly the Rotenbergs?" he wrote on his Facebook page.

"Let the state answer: why has one of the country's most precious assets been sold without a contest?"

Russia is rated the most corrupt country in the Group of 20 by campaign group Transparency International, which ranked it 136th in its 2014 corruption perception index, alongside the likes of Cameroon, Iran, Lebanon and Nigeria.

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