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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Air Show a No-Go for Russia

Russia's top military aircraft manufacturers, AHC Sukhoi and RSK MiG, will not send their jets to France's Le Bourget air show this month for fear that they will be impounded by a Swiss trading firm seeking allegedly unpaid Russian debts, company officials said Friday.

"Preparation work for sending real Sukhoi models to Le Bourget has been completely stopped," Sukhoi spokesman Yury Chervakov was quoted by Interfax as saying.

Chervakov said Sukhoi's decision was based on an order from the Russian Aviation and Space Agency, which warned of the danger that Sukhoi aircraft at the show would be impounded by the Swiss firm, Noga.

MiG deputy director Vyacheslav Meleshko said that dummy MiG aircraft will be sent to the show because the dispute with Noga remains unsettled.

The Swiss company claims that Russia owes it more than $60 million for oil-for-food deals signed in the early 1990s. Two years ago at Le Bourget, Noga tried to seize Su-30MK and MiG-AT trainer aircraft as compensation.

Fearing a similar incident, Sukhoi chose not to put its jets on display at last year's Farnborough air show, and MiG aircraft were not sent to a Berlin event.

Russian companies were planning to display their Su-27SM and MiG-29MRCA fighters and a MiG-AT trainer jet and were pinning their hope on a June 4 hearing at a French court to resolve the matter, but the final verdict will not be announced until July 2.

Noga had a renowned Russian sailing ship, the Sedov, impounded in France in 2000 and had the accounts of the Russian Embassy in Paris frozen two years ago. Both actions were ultimately unsuccessful, however, after courts ruled in favor of the Russians.

Russia says the debts were connected to the Soviet Union, but Noga insists they stem from deals signed in 1991, the year the Soviet Union collapsed, and 1992.

Some 45 Russian companies will participate in the show, according to arms export agency Rosoboronexport. The delegation will be headed by Boris Alyoshin, the recently appointed deputy prime minister in charge of the defense industry.

(AP, MT)