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St. Petersburg Economic Forum to be representative despite US pressure — Kremlin

May 23, 2014, 8:42 UTC+3 MOSCOW
600 heads of the largest Russian and foreign companies will gather for the forum, which runs May 22-24
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© ITAR-TASS/Valery Matytsin

MOSCOW, May 23. /ITAR-TASS/. Contracts that may be concluded at the ongoing St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) 2014 will likely be worth more than 9 trillion rubles ($262.2 billion), and the event will be as representative as in previous years despite pressure from the US administration, presidential aide Yury Ushakov said Thursday.

“More than 100 cooperation agreements worth some 9.6 trillion rubles were signed at the previous forum; this year, the indices will evidently not be lower,” Yury Ushakov told journalists.

Ushakov said 600 heads of the largest Russian and foreign companies will gather for the forum, which runs May 22-24. Some 70% of them are representatives of European Union member countries and the United States.

“Despite the complicated situation caused by reaction first of all of the USA to events in Ukraine, despite pressure from the American administration, its attempts to pressure possible participants of the forum, the composition is still rather representative,” the aide said.

Ushakov said SPIEF events will be attended by heads of BP, E.ON, Total, Exxon Mobil, Shell, Philips, Caterpillar and Danone.

“Nearly all companies working tightly on the Russian market are represented at the forum despite blatant and unprecedented pressure on the part of the American administration,” he said.

The United States and the European Union have suspended cooperation with Russia in some spheres over Moscow’s position on Ukrainian developments. Some Russian and Crimean officials and companies have been subjected to sanctions by Western nations, including visa bans and asset freezes.

Russia has dismissed the threats of further penalties, including economic ones, against it, saying the language of punitive measures is counterproductive and will have a boomerang effect on Western nations.

Unrest embraced Ukraine after a coup occurred in the country in February. Russia's position is that the Ukrainian authorities in Kiev, brought to power by the coup, are illegitimate.

The Crimean Peninsula, where most residents are Russians, held a referendum on March 16, in which most Crimeans voted to reunify with Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the reunification deal March 18.

In the Soviet Union, Crimea used to be part of Russia until 1954.

The West and the de facto Kiev authorities refuse to recognize the legality of Crimea’s reunification with Russia despite Moscow’s repeated statements that the Crimean referendum on secession was in line with the international law.

After Crimea’s accession to Russia, massive protests against the coup-imposed Ukrainian authorities erupted in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking southeastern territories. Kiev has been conducting a punitive operation against pro-federalization activists.

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