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SPIEF to remain unaffected even if top managers refuse to come — deputy minister

May 15, 2014, 19:34 UTC+3 WARSAW

"There are few refusals, just about 30 out of 6,500 participants," Sergei Belyakov said

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Sergei Belyakov

Sergei Belyakov

© ITAR-TASS/Denis Vyshynsky

WARSAW, May 15. /ITAR-TASS/. Numerous refusals by foreign top executives to come to the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) will not affect the event’s quality, Russian Deputy Minister of Economic Development Sergei Belyakov told ITAR-TASS on Thursday.

“There are few refusals, just about 30 out of 6,500 participants. The dropouts are mostly top executives of major companies, mainly the US ones, who admit the decision has been made under pressure,” he said. “Nor does the U.S. administration make any secret of the fact that it exerted such pressure, as it called the officials and recommended ignoring the forum.”

The forum’s program would remain unchanged, and there has been a relevant replacement for each official who has refused to come, he added. Their companies have not declined to participate and will be represented by proxies.

This was “an unpleasant situation”, said Belyakov, not in terms of risks for the forum but because it indicated that doing business in Russia implied the possibility of such a pressure on senior executives by their countries’ authorities.

“It is especially unpleasant for these companies’ executives. They feel uncomfortable because they need to show us up,” he said. “We’ll get over it, while they will think about who they can cooperate with more conveniently.” Despite the refusals, the Russian side has sent each of the officials a letter saying their decision was a loss for Russia but they should not fear any sanctions or negative reactions.

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