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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Jordan Case Sends Out Sad Message

Boris Jordan is once again persona non grata in Russia. The 37-year-old American investment banker, who recently merged his Renaissance Capital group with Vladimir Potanin's Uneximbank subsidiary MFK Bank, has been barred from the country. Jordan had his visa taken away Friday at Sheremetyevo Airport before he boarded a plane for London.

It's not the first time Jordan, who is one of Russia's most high-profile foreign investors, has run afoul of the visa cops. He spent more than two months last year trying to get a visa to return to Russia. The Russian government never offered an explanation for the multiple rejections of his visa applications last year, but some have suggested that Renaissance's opponents in a struggle for control at the Novolipetsk Metals Plant may have had something to do with it.

How long will the government keep Jordan out this time? Not long, if First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov has anything to do with it. "It is clear he must be given a visa, and I think this problem will be resolved soon," he said Wednesday.

Russian bureaucrats defending the action may point out that U.S. authorities have denied visas to high-profile Russians. Crooner Iosif Kobzon and Radisson Slavjanskaya director Umar Dzhabrailov, were turned away because of suspected mafia links.

But one obvious difference between those cases and Jordan's is that, unlike Kobzon and Dzhabrailov who are strangers to the United States, Jordan has maintained a residence and earns his livelihood here in Moscow. If it's true that Jordan's business activities are a threat to Russia's security, why didn't officials deport him long ago?

The arbitrary timing makes a joke of claims that Jordan is really a security threat. His visa has been revoked, Nemtsov himself said Wednesday, because Jordan is now a player in the ongoing war between Russia's high-powered banking groups.

Uneximbank and its friends, especially Alfred Kokh, the ex-privatization chief, have taken several hits over the past week in their battles with rivals Boris Berezovsky and Vladimir Gusinsky. Kokh is under investigation for corruption and Potanin has reportedly been grilled by police over a scandal involving a chemicals plant deal.

Jordan himself has always taken pride in his ability to operate as a Russian businessman and play by Russia's hardball rules. With friends like his, he must know he is a likely target of Russian-style dirty tricks.

But the message for the foreign business community remains depressing. Even under the new "reformed" Cabinet, it appears that Russia cannot guarantee basic freedoms of movement and commerce for foreign businessmen.