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Yakunin Lashes Out Against West, Says Russia Will Turn East

Published: May 24, 2014 (Issue # 1812)



  • Russian Railways head Vladimir Yakunin.
    Photo: Vedomosti

Animosity between Russia and the West over Ukraine's disintegration has forced Russia to change its course toward the East, Russian Railways chief Vladimir Yakunin said in an interview with The St. Petersburg Times on Friday.

Yakunin, 65, who manages one of Russia's biggest companies — Russian Railways employs more than 880,000 people — had sanctions imposed on him by the United States and the European Union in March as member of President Vladimir Putin's inner circle.

Yakunin has his own interpretation of the sanctions, saying in softly accented English: "It was clearly stated that I was sanctioned not because of my wrongdoings but because of my connections with some persons on the top of Russian hierarchy,"

"I consider the sanctions list to be a list of people who actually do something positive for our society and our country. It was not us who introduced this clash, but we were sanctioned and disgraced in the mass media, he said.

Yakunin, who has been accused of massive corruption by opposition politician Alexei Navalny, singled out Putin as "a leader who was disgraced in a way that is absolutely not acceptable in normal diplomatic relations even in the modern tense period of life."

He said Western pressure was "not civilized behavior" and that this demonstrated lack of democracy in the West.

The St. Petersburg Times spoke to Yakunin at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, a huge annual get-together that attracts thousands of high-profile business leaders and official from Russia and abroad. This year, the international contingent is slightly thinner than usual, as executives, particularly from the U.S., have bowed to political pressure to keep away.

"Lots of people who came to this forum explain in private that in their countries American ambassadors were reaching them with letters and telephone calls urging them not to come to this event or they will have to face consequences," Yakunin said.

In this situation nothing remains to Russia but to turn to the east, he said.

"We can aim at reaching new level of relations with our friends in China, South Korea, Japan, the Pacific countries, Latin America and so on," he said.

But while confident of the bounties that await Russia from ramping up cooperation with new partners, Yakunin is sure that the West will turn back to Russia as soon as the media pressure subsides.

"Business people are very pragmatic. Russia is a very important market, which has nothing to do with emotions, he said.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, July 24


Liliana Modiliani, a well-known Russian stylist, will talk about choosing clothes that fit during her lecture at 7 p.m. at the Pryamoy Efir art club, 13 Viborgskoe Shosse.



Friday, July 25


Discuss Russia’s economic and political prospects for 2014 during a Business Breakfast organized by SPIBA at 9.30 a.m. in the Bank Saint-Petersburg office at 64


Malookhtinsky Prospekt.


Start your weekend with adorable miniature pigs at the Squealing Pig festival at 7 p.m. this evening in the Karl & Friedrich restaurant, 15 Iozhnaya doroga, on Krestovsky Island.



Saturday, July 26


Hundreds of brand-new and retro cars, drag and drift shows, test drives and karting are planned for the Avtobum-2014 festival, which will take place in front of the RIO shopping center at 2 Fuchika Ulitsa.


Participants in today’s SaniDay Summer competition will impress visitors with their hand-made, unusual and hilarious boats, which will race at the Igora Resort near the 54th kilometer on Priozerskoe Shosse.


Metro Family Day will include both serious lectures for adults and master-classes for children, making the event interesting for the whole family. To participate, come to Kirov Park on Yelagin Island.


Photography will be the focus of today’s Photosubbota, which features lectures by famous photographers, meetings with photo schools and studio representatives, and participation in a photography competition. The event starts at noon at Petrokongress, 5 Lodeynopolskaya Ulitsa.


If you like cycling, make sure to visit the Za Velogorod Festival with its retro bike exhibition, market and live music. The second round of the Leningrad Criterium race will also take place during the event at Petrovsky Arsenal in Sestroretsk.



Sunday, July 27


Navy Day will be celebrated with a weapon and military transportation exhibition, self-defense master classes and concerts. The event starts at 1 p.m. in the 300th Anniversary Park of St. Petersburg.



Monday, July 28


Don’t miss a chance to see the latest achievements in robotics during the RoboDom interactive show, exhibiting more than 150 robots. The show will be at BUM center, 22/2 Gzhatskaya Ulitsa, until Aug. 3. The entrance ticket costs 350 rubles ($10).



Tuesday, July 29


A video of a Queen concert from 1986 will be shown today at 8 p.m. in Yaschik, 50/13 Ligovsky Prospekt.



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