Finnish investor banned from Russia over ‘spy’ allegations: report
Russian authorities have barred a prominent Finnish investor from entering the country and accused him of espionage, the Scandinavian businessman said in interviews published Wednesday.
“Upon entering (Russia) on March 22 I was officially notified that I have been declared persona non-grata, under broad laws like being a security threats for the country,” said Seppo Remes in an interview published by Russian newspaper Vedomosti.
Remes is banned from entering Russia for five years, he said.
The investor sits on the board of a slew of Russian companies, including power provider Rosseti, energy company Sibur and even the state corporation Rosnano.
Russia’s security service (FSB) had reportedly started investigating him over allegations he was gathering information about top managers, Vedomosti said.
The FSB’s industrial counterintelligence unit had handed him an official warning earlier in March, before he left the country on vacation, the paper said.
Remes denied doing anything illegal, saying the real reason could be his criticism of Rosseti’s management.
“I didn’t gather information though I don’t understand why that would be forbidden,” he told the paper.
Remes further told Finnish publication Helsingin Sanomat that the incident showed how the atmosphere in Russia was changing amid its worst standoff with the West since the Cold War.
“I guess this says something about the current atmosphere,” he said, adding that he had not had any problems with the Russian authorities in the past.
Russia shares a border with EU member Finland, which has opted for closer cooperation with NATO in the wake of Russia’s seizure of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula, and criticised forays by Russian military aircraft into its airspace.