Invitations are now going out for next January’s gathering of the global business elite in Davos but three prominent Russian businessmen subject to US sanctions have been informed that they will not be welcome at the annual World Economic Forum event.
It is a sign of the increased wariness among international organisations to deal with those blacklisted by Washington.
Aluminium magnate Oleg Deripaska, industrial tycoon Viktor Vekselberg and VTB Bank head Andrei Kostin have in effect been barred from the elite gathering in Switzerland, two people with knowledge of the decision told the Financial Times, despite there being no legal impediments to them attending.
The decision to bar the trio undermined efforts by the WEF’s organisers to convince Russian president Vladimir Putin to attend the event for the first time in a decade, one of the people said.
A spokesperson for the Kremlin confirmed Mr Putin would not attend but denied any knowledge of the situation regarding the three men. “Mr Putin is invited each year. Now it does not coincide with his schedule,” the president’s press office told the FT.
Spokespersons for the World Economic Forum and the three men did not respond to requests for comment. All three men have attended Davos in the past.
Mr Deripaska’s glitzy party has become a staple of the mountainside event’s evening entertainment and a sought-after invitation, while Mr Vekselberg also has significant business interests in Switzerland.
The trio were hit by US sanctions in April that banned them from doing business with US citizens and froze their US assets. Yet while the sanctions do not ban them from entering Switzerland, one of those with knowledge of the Davos decision said the forum was bowing to demands from Washington.
“This is not about the law,” the person said on condition of anonymity. “They’re under huge pressure from the US not to invite them.”
Mr Putin has not attended the forum since 2009, and in recent years Russia’s official delegation has often been headed by one of the country’s deputy prime ministers.
Tags: World Economic Forum