U.S. investor jailed by Russia tells Washington to keep distance - prison monitor
By Tom Balmforth
MOSCOW, March 19 (Reuters) - A prominent U.S. investor being
held in Russia on embezzlement charges has asked U.S. diplomats
not to defend him because he is worried about his case becoming
politicised, a prison monitor who visited him in custody said on
The detention last month of Michael Calvey, founder of the
Baring Vostok private equity group, has strained U.S.-Russia
ties and stoked talk of a possible U.S. boycott of an annual
economic forum in June attended by President Vladimir Putin.
Calvey was detained along with three other executives from
Baring Vostok after investigators accused them of stealing 2.5
billion roubles ($38.09 million), a charge he denies.
Ivan Melnikov, a member of a public body that monitors
prisons, visited Calvey in custody on Monday and said the
investor told him a U.S. diplomat had visited him and that
Calvey had asked them not to play up his case publicly.
"He has asked (the U.S. diplomat) not to get actively
involved in his defence because he is worried about the case
becoming politicised," Melnikov said.
Ties between Russia and the United States are at post-Cold
War lows, strained by issues such as Moscow's annexation of
Crimea, the war in Syria, and espionage cases.
Calvey's arrest has rattled some foreign investors who are
worried about the business climate and some prominent Russian
businessmen have called for him to be released from pre-trial
detention on bail, saying his treatment has been too harsh.
The Kremlin has said Vladimir Putin does not plan to
intervene in the case and that investigators should be allowed
to do their job.
Melnikov said the U.S. investor was having problems
receiving correspondence, but was in satisfactory condition.
"Calvey said he plans to continue with his projects in
Russia when he gets out of pre-trial detention," Melnikov said.
"He hopes they'll get to the bottom of this case soon."
(Editing by Andrew Osborn)
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