Dvorkovich Qualifies Investment Call

APPresident Dmitry Medvedev congratulating Global Energy Prize winners, Oleg Favorsky, left, and Eduard Volkov, right, of Russia and Clement Bowman of Canada at a ceremony during the St. Petersburg forum on Saturday.
ST. PETERSBURG — Arkady Dvorkovich, the top economic aide to President Dmitry Medvedev, criticized some types of foreign investment Saturday, saying Moscow did not need investment which limited Russian companies' opportunities.

Dvorkovich made the comment in introductory remarks to a panel discussion at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

"We don't need … investment that aims not at developing a company and increasing its competitiveness but instead at limiting its activities including when a Russian company wants to expand in foreign markets," he said.

An official later clarified that Dvorkovich was referring to a shareholder dispute at VimpelCom, the country's second-biggest cell phone operator.

VimpelCom is owned by Mikhail Fridman's Alfa Group and Norway's Telenor, which have been locked in a boardroom and court battle over the company. One of the bones of contention is VimpelCom's desire to expand overseas, something Russian shareholders contend was blocked by Telenor.

"There are no limits on foreign expansion of this company," Telenor senior vice president Kjell-Morten Johnsen said, citing VimpelCom's plans to expand in Vietnam.

The dispute has some similarities with a feud between BP and its Russian partners in a 50-50 joint venture oil firm, TNK-BP. Alfa Group is also one of the main Russian shareholders in TNK-BP. Johnsen denied there were similarities between VimpelCom and TNK-BP.

Dvorkovich pledged the Russian state would not interfere in shareholder disputes.

n Dvorkovich said Saturday that oil companies should get additional tax breaks in 2010 to stimulate output, Bloomberg reported. The system of oil taxation should change from 2010, he said. Additional measures are needed for output growth, he said.