Russian property seized in Sweden

21.11.2010 Russian property seized in Sweden The seizure of Russia’s assets in Sweden brought the Swedes to a deadlock and raised a wave of discontent in Russia.

Official Stockholm determinedly refuses to comment. The City Court of the Swedish capital also keeps silent in regard to its issuance of the controversial decision. The impression is forming that the entire situation has become a state secret of the kingdom.

To date, the only thing certain is that an arrest was imposed on Russia’s state property in Sweden on Monday. But the concrete list of facilities which have been included in the sanctions is not being released. Rossiyskaya Gazeta (RG) learned that part of Russia’s state-owned commercial facilities has already been “sealed.” It is unclear what other facilities are still being considered by the relevant Swedish agencies.

The main actor in the controversial decision of the court is a famous German businessman, Franz Sedelmayer. He has for many years been trying to get compensation from Russia in the amount of €5 million for investments lost in the 1990s, when he conducted business in St. Petersburg.

The businessman argues that the work his firm conducted in Russia was declared illegal. He was deprived of his business and lost an old mansion in St. Petersburg.

Sedelmayer filed numerous lawsuits against Russia. In 2006, he was able to win the former Soviet Trade Mission in Cologne by court action. In 2008, Moscow bought back a set of buildings from Sedelmayer for €2.9 million.

Later, the businessman tried to impose an arrest on the Roscosmos (Russia’s Federal Space Agency) exhibit items displayed at the International Aerospace Exhibition in Berlin. But the attempt failed – private security guards at the exhibit did not allow court bailiffs to enter the premises. Sedelmayer’s attempts to take ownership of the Russian House in Berlin have also failed. The German courts recognized that the House is protected under state immunity.

This time, the situation is fairly complex. The German businessman has shown victory in the battle on the Swedish land. But the war, apparently, is yet to be won. Russia plans to challenge the decision of the City Court of Stockholm in a higher court.

Commentary

Igor Neverov, Russian Ambassador to Sweden:

“We consider this decision to be unjust, and in violation of integrity of the Russian state property. It will be promptly appealed by lawyers representing the interests of the Russian Federation. Because the case will be reviewed in the Supreme Court, we hope that it will approach the issue objectively and in full compliance with international regulations. We consider making any comment prior to the decision of the Supreme Court of Sweden to be premature.”

Viktor Khrekov, Spokesperson for the Office of Presidential Affairs of Russia:

“The Office of Presidential Affairs of Russia has not received any notices from the Stockholm Court in regard to seizure of Russian state property in Sweden. However, reports claiming that the German businessman filed a lawsuit with the District Court of Stockholm on September 30, and the claim was denied, are accurate.

Franz Sedelmayer has not once tried to attract mass media attention by claiming that he either won property or money in court, which was untrue. All Russian property is safe and is in good condition. If the trial was held, especially without the presence of a Russian lawyer, then the Russian Federation will challenge the court’s decision.”

Sven Lexner, partner, head of the Moscow Office of the Mannheimer Swartling law firm:

“The decision made by the City Court of Stockholm on October 11 in favor of Franz Sedelmayer is a temporary measure. Russia has seven days to challenge the decision. But the decision shall take effect immediately.

The verdict allows the seizure of property of the Russian Federation, located on the territory of Sweden, but does not list specific facilities. We know, however, that Franz Sedelmayer’s representatives have already appealed to the court bailiffs to execute the decision, and the bailiffs yesterday seized certain property belonging to Russia on the territory of Stockholm (Lidingö Municipality).

It should be noted that the Supreme Court of Sweden is currently reviewing the question of state immunity of Russian property in connection to Franz Sedelmayer’s demand to impose an arrest on the buildings of the Russian Trade Mission in Stockholm. Mr. Sedelmayer argues that these buildings are used for commercial purposes and not for the representational needs of the state, and are therefore, not protected under state immunity.”

Source: Russia Today


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