Free Russia Foundation Launches #NoToWar Campaign

Maduro, Schröder, and the Rosneft. Energy Blog

Aug 15 2017

One of  last week’s key stories was another major instance of political activity unrelated to business on the part of the Russian state-owned oil giant Rosneft.

At the same time, the company’s name is now linked to two political figures: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who struggles to keep his presidency at any cost, and ex-chancellor of Germany Gerhard Schröder, who is also well-known as one of the key lobbyists for Russian energy companies in Western Europe.

Reuters, referring to the high-ranking manager of the state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, has recently reported that in at least two situations the Venezuelan government used funds provided by Russia to avoid a looming bond default. Russia and Rosneft have become a key source of Funding for the government of Nicholas Maduro, who is trying to avoid both a sovereign default and a political coup.  The ruling regime is increasingly turning to Russia for loans and in return offers valuable oil assets as collateral. This information was reported right after the news that Rosneft paid $ 6 billion in prepayments for the supply of oil from Venezuela.

Free Russia asked Vladimir Milov, the director of the Energy Policy Institute to comment:

“It looks quite clear that decisive actions of the Maduro regime – aggressive pushing through the establishment of the Constituent Assembly, effectively overriding the opposition-led Parliament – have some financial backing from outside powers, namely Russia. Otherwise, why would oil-rich Russia buy oil from Venezuela worth $6 billion (that’s about the size of the annual oil output of Vietnam), and even provide full advance payment for it – whereas Rosneft’s own production volume is one of the biggest in the world (5,7 million barrels per day). Even if that is not enough to meet the company’s downstream needs, extra oil could have been easily bought in the market for better conditions without such generous advances.

The answer clearly is politics. Putin wants to support the Maduro regime, but it’s difficult to do it via state or state-bank loans – Venezuela’s “quality” as a borrower is a joke, there’s something of a consensus in the market that this state is near default. Then Rosneft comes along with “prepayments”. This scheme does not leverage the Russian state or the Russian banks with “toxic” assets and it will be repaid in a natural form (being out of cash, Venezuela nonetheless still produces physical oil).
Despite Rosneft’s claims that “it does not intend” to buy more Venezuelan crude with prepayment, who knows. So far, the scheme has worked, and so far, saved the Venezuelan regime from collapse. There’s a price to be paid: many newswires reported Rosneft’s net earnings dropped by 20% during the first half of this year.  The primary reason for this was the increase in the costs of purchased oil by over 30% (we’re back to the question of why would one of the biggest oil-producing companies be interested in buying oil at world prices from someone else). Generous oil purchases from Venezuela have clearly contributed to that. If the Maduro regime needs more money from Putin, here’s a scheme which can always be expanded. That may explain Maduro’s decisiveness.”

As for ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, his future is also likely to be closely connected to Rosneft.  Schroeder was nominated to the Board of Directors by the Russian government on August 11th.

We have asked the Free Russia Foundation’s energy expert, Ilya Zaslavsky, to share his thoughts on this:

“The news that Gerhard Schröder will be an independent member of Rosneft’s Board of Directors is another stain on the history of his moral fall, as an unprincipled politician and man. It is quite widely known that right before he left the post of German Chancellor he approved the Gazprom gas pipeline project Severny Potok-1.  He then quickly received a warm high-paying place in the company in 2005, where he was in the company of Putin’s friend from Stasi Matthias Warnig (now head of Nord Stream).

The term “shroedification” was born exactly out of such well-known facts which. This term denotes the fact of a veiled bribe from the Kremlin to the former great political figures from the West, so that they justify and in every way serve the subversive interests of Moscow in democratic countries.

It is less known that Schroeder served the interests of the Kremlin, and also helped the Russian oligarchs some years before the Nord Stream 1,  to make the Institute of independent directors in the Russian corporations vacant.  In 2009, after corporate raiding and the capture of TNK-BP by oligarchs close to the Kremlin and Igor Sechin, Mikhail Fridman and his partners from the consortium of AAR, Schroeder and Alexander Shokhin has been called independent directors of the company. However, it was clear to everyone that they would be “independent” only in favor of the Russian part of the company’s owners who seized the operational control of TNK-BP with the help of the FSB and other law enforcement agencies.

Rosneft, a company where Igor Sechin rules, bypasses commercial logic when it comes to the interests of the Kremlin, both inside and outside of Russia, is now going through hard times thanks to such mediocre leadership. As the latest accounts show, the company essentially has a debt of $ 82 billion, out of which, on behalf of the Kremlin, it actually gave $13.5 billion to the kleptocratic regime of Venezuela. Servants like Schroeder are obviously called upon by the company to try to “normalize” such results.”

 

At the same time, the company’s name is now linked to two political figures: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who struggles to keep his presidency at any cost, and ex-chancellor of Germany Gerhard Schröder, who is also well-known as one of the key lobbyists for Russian energy companies in Western Europe.

Reuters, referring to the high-ranking manager of the state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, has recently reported that in at least two situations the Venezuelan government used funds provided by Russia to avoid a looming bond default. Russia and Rosneft have become a key source of Funding for the government of Nicholas Maduro, who is trying to avoid both a sovereign default and a political coup.  The ruling regime is increasingly turning to Russia for loans and in return offers valuable oil assets as collateral. This information was reported right after the news that Rosneft paid $ 6 billion in prepayments for the supply of oil from Venezuela.

Free Russia asked Vladimir Milov, the director of the Energy Policy Institute to comment:

“It looks quite clear that decisive actions of the Maduro regime – aggressive pushing through the establishment of the Constituent Assembly, effectively overriding the opposition-led Parliament – have some financial backing from outside powers, namely Russia. Otherwise, why would oil-rich Russia buy oil from Venezuela worth $6 billion (that’s about the size of the annual oil output of Vietnam), and even provide full advance payment for it – whereas Rosneft’s own production volume is one of the biggest in the world (5,7 million barrels per day). Even if that is not enough to meet the company’s downstream needs, extra oil could have been easily bought in the market for better conditions without such generous advances.

The answer clearly is politics. Putin wants to support the Maduro regime, but it’s difficult to do it via state or state-bank loans – Venezuela’s “quality” as a borrower is a joke, there’s something of a consensus in the market that this state is near default. Then Rosneft comes along with “prepayments”. This scheme does not leverage the Russian state or the Russian banks with “toxic” assets and it will be repaid in a natural form (being out of cash, Venezuela nonetheless still produces physical oil).
Despite Rosneft’s claims that “it does not intend” to buy more Venezuelan crude with prepayment, who knows. So far, the scheme has worked, and so far, saved the Venezuelan regime from collapse. There’s a price to be paid: many newswires reported Rosneft’s net earnings dropped by 20% during the first half of this year.  The primary reason for this was the increase in the costs of purchased oil by over 30% (we’re back to the question of why would one of the biggest oil-producing companies be interested in buying oil at world prices from someone else). Generous oil purchases from Venezuela have clearly contributed to that. If the Maduro regime needs more money from Putin, here’s a scheme which can always be expanded. That may explain Maduro’s decisiveness.”

As for ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, his future is also likely to be closely connected to Rosneft.  Schroeder was nominated to the Board of Directors by the Russian government on August 11th.

We have asked the Free Russia Foundation’s energy expert, Ilya Zaslavsky, to share his thoughts on this:

“The news that Gerhard Schröder will be an independent member of Rosneft’s Board of Directors is another stain on the history of his moral fall, as an unprincipled politician and man. It is quite widely known that right before he left the post of German Chancellor he approved the Gazprom gas pipeline project Severny Potok-1.  He then quickly received a warm high-paying place in the company in 2005, where he was in the company of Putin’s friend from Stasi Matthias Warnig (now head of Nord Stream).

The term “shroedification” was born exactly out of such well-known facts which. This term denotes the fact of a veiled bribe from the Kremlin to the former great political figures from the West, so that they justify and in every way serve the subversive interests of Moscow in democratic countries.

It is less known that Schroeder served the interests of the Kremlin, and also helped the Russian oligarchs some years before the Nord Stream 1,  to make the Institute of independent directors in the Russian corporations vacant.  In 2009, after corporate raiding and the capture of TNK-BP by oligarchs close to the Kremlin and Igor Sechin, Mikhail Fridman and his partners from the consortium of AAR, Schroeder and Alexander Shokhin has been called independent directors of the company. However, it was clear to everyone that they would be “independent” only in favor of the Russian part of the company’s owners who seized the operational control of TNK-BP with the help of the FSB and other law enforcement agencies.

Rosneft, a company where Igor Sechin rules, bypasses commercial logic when it comes to the interests of the Kremlin, both inside and outside of Russia, is now going through hard times thanks to such mediocre leadership. As the latest accounts show, the company essentially has a debt of $ 82 billion, out of which, on behalf of the Kremlin, it actually gave $13.5 billion to the kleptocratic regime of Venezuela. Servants like Schroeder are obviously called upon by the company to try to “normalize” such results.”

 

Free Russia Foundation Condemns the Kremlin’s Decision to Annex the Occupied Territories of Ukraine and Preparations for Mobilization in Russia

Sep 20 2022

On September 20, 2022, the occupation authorities of the self-proclaimed republics “LNR” and “DNR” and other occupied territories of Ukraine, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions, hastily announced that they would hold “referendums on joining Russia” in the near future. The authorities of the “LNR” and “DNR” added that the vote will take place as early as this week, from September 23 to 27, 2022.

On the same day, the Russian State Duma introduced the concepts of “mobilization,” “martial law” and “wartime” into the Russian Criminal Code. The deputies voted for the law in the third reading unanimously — all 389 of them. Now voluntary surrender, looting and unauthorized abandonment of a unit during combat operations will result in imprisonment.

From the first day of the war unleashed by Putin’s regime and its allies against independent Ukraine, Free Russia Foundation, which supports Russian activists, journalists, and human rights activists forced to leave the country because of direct security threats, has condemned the crimes of Putin’s regime against independent Ukraine. We respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of states and consider human life and freedom to be of the highest value.

The forthcoming “referendums”, mobilization, and martial law are a collapse of the whole system of “Putin’s stability,” the illusion of which the Kremlin has been trying to maintain since the beginning of the full-scale war with Ukraine. Vladimir Putin is preparing to blatantly violate international law once again and launch an attack on democracy and freedom in Ukraine and Europe. Any statements by the Kremlin that residents of the occupied territories of Ukraine want to become part of Russia are false.

Three decades ago, the Ukrainian people proclaimed the independence of their state. Since 2014, the world has seen that Vladimir Putin has undermined Ukraine’s sovereignty and any attempts at anti-war protest in Russia through military force, repressive legislation, false statements, and massive state propaganda. Despite all the suffering inflicted on Ukraine, Putin has failed to achieve this goal: Ukrainians continue to show fortitude and determination to defend their country at any cost, and Russian anti-war resistance continues despite repression.

We consider any attempts to tear away Ukrainian territory through so-called “referendums” categorically unacceptable and call on state institutions and international human rights organizations to join the demand for an immediate end to the war and the liberation of the occupied territories. Any war brings suffering to humanity and endangers peace. We will not allow a totalitarian dictatorship to prevail and we will continue to fight for Ukraine’s independence and Russia’s democratic future.

Free Russia Foundation announces the appointment of Vladimir Milov as Vice President for International Advocacy

Sep 01 2022

September 1, 2022. Washington, DC. Free Russia Foundation announces the appointment of Russian politician, publicist, economist, and energy expert Vladimir Milov as FRF Vice President for International Advocacy.

In her announcement of Vladimir’s new role, Natalia Arno, President of Free Russia Foundation, remarked: “I am delighted to welcome this distinguished Russian civil society leader to our team. I am certain that Vladimir will become our force multiplier and make a profound contribution to FRF’s mission, including strengthening civil society in Russia, standing up for democracy defenders who oppose war, both inside and outside the country, building coalitions and mobilizing supporters. Vladimir Milov’s professional skills and extensive experience in human rights advocacy will help us come up with effective and innovative approaches to combat the authoritarian regime and repression that the current Russian government has unleashed against citizens of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.”

Vladimir Milov was born on June 18, 1972. From 1997—2002 he worked in government agencies, more than 4 years of which were in senior positions, from assistant to the Chairman of the Federal Energy Commission to the Deputy Minister of Energy of Russia.

Vladimir Milov has bravely and publicly called out the authorities for monopolizing the economy, and encroaching into public and political life of Russian citizens. Milov’s profile as an opposition leader rose thanks to his joint project with Boris Nemtsov. The report titled “Putin. Results,” condemned the activities of the Russian government during Putin’s presidency. In 2010, Mr. Milov headed the Democratic Choice movement, which later served as the basis for the creation of a political party with the same name.

In 2016, Mr. Milov became an associate of the unregistered presidential candidate Alexei Navalny. On May 11, 2017, he began hosting a weekly segment on the economy, “Where’s the Money?” on the NavalnyLIVE broadcast on YouTube.

In April of 2021, he left Russia for Lithuania amidst persecution of Alexei Navalny’s organizations. In February of 2022, he categorically condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. On May 6, 2022, the Russian Ministry of Justice added Vladimir Milov to the list of media outlets considered as “foreign agents.” Vladimir Milov is a regular guest expert for the world’s leading media outlets — CNN, CNBC, The New York Times, The Financial Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal.

Kara-Murza faces a new charge as the Kremlin cracks down on its opponents

Aug 04 2022

Russian pro-democracy politician Vladimir Kara-Murza, who’s been in jail since April for allegedly spreading “disinformation” about the Russian military, now also stands accused of “carrying out the activities of an undesirable organization,” which names Free Russia Foundation in the newly filed charge.

Free Russia Foundation, unconstitutionally designated as an “undesirable” organization by the Russian government in June 2019, did not organize an event on political prisoners in Moscow in 2021. FRF does not have any presence or programs inside Russia. Additionally, FRF has never conducted any work in the State of Arizona.

FRF strongly condemns the new charges brought against Vladimir Kara-Murza by Russian authorities and demands the dropping of all charges against him and calls for his immediate release.

“All actions of the Kremlin directed against Russian opposition politicians and activists have nothing in common with establishing the truth. They are instead aimed solely at getting rid of opponents of Putin’s regime,” FRF President Arno stated.

Free Russian Foundation and Boris Nemtsov Foundation launch “Russians for Change” fundraising campaign

Jul 25 2022

Russia is not Putin. We are Russia.

We aim at sharing this message with our friends around the world — therefore, in cooperation with Boris Nemtsov Foundation we are launching “Russians for Change” fundraising campaign.

We are going to be telling the stories of active pro-democracy anti-war Russians who have not lost their hope. US nationals also participate in this campaign: Francis Fukuyama, investigative journalist Casey Michel, and alumni of Boris Nemtsov Foundation media school.

Thank you for your donation:

The Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom honors the political legacy of Boris Nemtsov, a Russian liberal opposition politician assassinated in Moscow in 2015. It promotes freedom of speech and education along with the vision that Russia is a part of Europe.

Free Russia Foundation is starting to document cases of abduction by the Russian army of Ukrainians for the International Criminal Court

Jul 13 2022

In the temporarily occupied territories of the Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions, in addition to the killing of civilians and horrific destructions carried out by the Russian army: a severe violation of the norms of international law in the form of abduction of Ukrainians into the territory of Russia has been taking place.

Prior to being interned, Ukrainians are placed in so-called “filtration camps” where they are subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment.

All these actions violate the Hague Conventions and constitute an international crime.

We plan to collect information about such abduction cases, put it in written pleadings, and submit them to the International Criminal Court.

If you have been subject to abduction (internment), please, fill in the form via the link.