MOSCOW, December 6. /TASS/. Businessman George Hesuani, citizen of Syria and Russia, whom Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused of illegal trade of oil with the Islamic State (IS) terrorist organisation (outlawed in Russia), rejected the accusations in an interview with TASS.
"I confirm, the Syrian government has not received a single barrel of oil from DAISH (Arabic abbreviation for IS) - either from me or from anybody else," Hesuani said in an exclusive interview with TASS.
Several days earlier, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said a Russian national bought oil from territories controlled by IS. It is well known who is buying oil from IS, he said, mentioning George Hesuani, a Russian national who is a Syrian at the same time. He buys oil from IS and sells it to the Assad regime, Erdogan said, referring to the U.S. sources.
Russia’s Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov told reporters last week that Turkey’s top officials and personally Erdogan are involved in illegal production and transportation to Turkey of Syrian and Iraqi oil. "The main consumer of this oil, stolen from legal owners Syria and Iraq, is Turkey," he said. "We have information this illegal business features the country’s top officials, President Erdogan and his family."
Hesuani told TASS all the claims against him are based on one article, which was published a year earlier on an Internet-based resource of the Syrian opposition. The article was used by the European Union and later by the U.S. as they put the businessman on their sanctions lists.
"The accusations are groundless," he said. "I have begun legal proceedings against the EU, which continues now."
He said there have not been any claims against him, with the exception for one that he is "a friend of Syria’s President Bashar Assad and is close to the regime." At the same time, the businessman says he does not have any special relations with the Syrian president.
"As the problems were emerging in Syria, the president began meeting with public organisations, with active people, he listened to their opinions," Hesuani said. "And I, as a businessman working here, was among the people who met with Assad, who had a dialogue with him. Everything was inside these frames only."
The businessman said nowadays supplies of oil from territories controlled by IS may be possible only by tanker trucks, as the oil pipeline to Syria’s other regions is damaged "in 60 places." He said, under the current conditions, all alleged illegal oil supplies to the Syrian government could have been well seen, but nobody has ever presented pictures proving them.
"Show at least one picture proving oil comes from the regions, controlled by DAISH, to regions, controlled by the government," he said.
Right now, he continued, in the territories, controlled by the Syrian government, the oil production makes only 15,000 barrels a day, while Syria’s demand is much higher. Hesuani said the Syrian authorities now are receiving oil and oil products exclusively from Russia and Iran.
"Everything is transparent in Syria - the plant in Banias is processing the Iranian oil, Homs uses the 15,000 barrels of the Syrian oil; they also have fuel oil from Russia. So, where is the oil claimed to come from DAISH? What a lie!"
The businessman told TASS he had received the Russian citizenship over 20 years earlier as he is married to a Russian woman. He has been living in Russia, or rather in the Soviet Union, since 1968, graduated from the Lenigrad Polytechnic Institute. His children studied and work in Moscow. In Moscow is the office of his company, Hesco, which is working in the construction business. The company is engaged in construction of oil and gas facilities, including pipelines, gas and oil refineries.
"We have been working for over 20 years with Russian companies, headed by Stroitransgas," Hesuani said adding among the facilities they made were those in Algeria, Sudan, the UAE and Syria. He said his company has never been involved in trade.
The Russian Defence Ministry said several days earlier, the Turkish elite, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his family, were directly linked to illegal oil trade with the Islamic State (a terrorist group, which is banned in Russia). The ministry provided evidence, including space reconnaissance images, at a special briefing.
President Erdogan, in turn, has flatly denied all accusations against himself and his family. He said he allegedly had proof that Russia was trading oil with the Islamic State. Iraqi Kurds later said that Russian satellite images depicted Kurdish trucks instead of IS tanker trucks.
Russian Defence Ministry Spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said on Friday that Russian warplanes had destroyed 12 fuel pump stations, eight oil fields and oil and gas facilities; as well as more than 170 extremist-owned tanker trucks over the past week.
"Twelve fuel pump stations, eight oil fields and oil and gas facilities as well as more than 170 tanker trucks have been destroyed (in Syria) over the past week," Konashenkov said.
In previous reports, the Russian Defence Ministry said that Russian air strikes had decreased militants’ oil smuggling revenues twice - from 3 million dollars to 1.5 million dollars. The ministry said that the terrorists had about 8,500 tanker trucks, which daily transported over 200,000 barrels of oil.
Russian warplanes have been delivering air strikes at terrorist targets in Syria since September 30 this year at the request of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The military said in mid-November that they would focus the air strikes on facilities for the production, storage, transportation and processing of fuel controlled by the Islamic State militants.