Russia's Rosneft vows to fight whistleblower blogger

20th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

The head of Russia's oil pipeline monopoly said on Friday his company would fight a court order demanding it release documents linked to alleged multi-billion-dollar fraud to a whistleblowing blogger.

Transneft President Nikolai Tokarev told the Izvestia daily that the records sought by one of its minority shareholders posed a state secret whose revelation could harm Russia's national interests.

"We do not disclose things to crooks, and we have no intention of doing so," Tokarev told the paper.

"Of course, we will abide by the court order. But we will try to avoid disclosing the documents, within the framework of the law," the Transneft chief added.

Transneft oversees Russia's vast oil pipeline network and is currently constructing a 5,000-kilometre (3,100-mile) pipeline linking Siberia's oil fields with the Pacific Ocean.

Anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny, who buys shares in state firms he suspects of being involved in embezzlement, said in November he had evidence showing that $4 billion allocated by the state for the pipeline had gone missing.

Navalny also alleged that about 15 billion rubles ($535 billion at today's exchange rate) that the company assigned to humanitarian work in 2008 had also gone missing.

The charges prompted Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to ask prosecutors to look into the allegations in December.

Two Russian courts have since ordered Transneft to release the documents sought by Navalny.

But the company's chief said Transneft was willing to go as high as Russia's Constitutional Court to protect its records from the blogger.

"Any self-respecting company has commercial secrets," Tokarev said.

"The issues we work with often represent state secrets ... and the information sought by Navalny also poses a state secret," he said.

© 2011 AFP

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