Russian President Vladimir Putin made the following comments at a press conference last week.

“Now regarding the acquisition by Rosneft of the well-known asset of the company Ð I do not remember its exact name Ð is it Baikal Investment Company? Essentially, Rosneft, a 100% state owned company, has bought the well-known asset Yuganskneftegaz. That is the story. In my view, everything was done according to the best market rules.

“I think it was at a press conference in Germany, a state-owned company or, rather companies with 100% state capital, just as any other market players, have the right to do so and, as it emerged, exercised it.

“You all know only too well how the privatisation drive was carried out in this country in the early 90s and, how, using all sorts of stratagems, some of them in breach of the then current legislation, many market players received state property worth many billions. Today, the state, resorting to absolutely legal market mechanisms, is looking after its own interests. I consider this to be quite logical.”


Question from the BBC

I would like to come back to the question raised at the beginning of the press conference regarding the sale of Yuganskneftegaz. There has been a lot of criticism lately and not just in the press or from Western experts, but also from official representatives of the U.S. administration, the State Department. How do you react to this criticism and does this concern you at all?


Putin’s reply

You know, when I read the decision of, say, a court in Texas stating that Russia ought to postpone the auction of Yuganskneftegaz, I cannot help but be surprised. I am not sure that this court even knows where Russia is. I am also surprised by the lack of professionalism. Lawyers know that one of the basic tenets of civil law is, “par in parem non habet imperium”.

“For people from other walks of life, I will explain that this means, ‘one equal does not have right over another’. What we have seen is unacceptable from an international-legal point of view. It is a breach of international politeness, and this is not a moral category but a legal category in international private law.

“If our colleagues, in all this “Latin nonsense” that I just quoted, like only the last word, “imperium”, extending it primarily to their own beloved selves, then all I can say is that this concept of building international relations does not suit us at all. We believe that international relations should be built on the basis of equality and the principle of respect for the sovereignty of all countries taking part in the international community. And I repeat that this view is shared by practically every member of the international community.

“As for the deal that took place, I think that it was carried out in strict conformity with the Russian legislation and in accordance with all the norms of international law and the international commitments that Russia has taken on as part of the agreements that we have signed with our partners on the international stage. So I do not see any real problems here.”