Russian knights of the Legion of Honor urge French President not to endanger Kerimov’s life

Russian knights of the Legion of Honor urge French President not to endanger Kerimov’s life
Suleyman Kerimov Photo: EPA-EFE/Yury Kochetkov

Russian businessmen and art workers stood bail for senator and oligarch Suleyman Kerimov, detained in France.⁠

13 Russian knights of the Legion of Honor - the highest award of France – signed a letter in support of Suleyman Kerimov, accused in France of non-payment of taxes. As TASS writes, the letter addressed to French President Emmanuel Macron was sent to the French embassy in Moscow. Businessman Mikhail Prokhorov, his sister, publisher Irina Prokhorova, Head of Sberbank German Gref, directors Pavel Lungin and Andrey Konchalovsky, former General Director of the Bolshoi Theater Anatoly Iksanov, former President of the Russian Academy of Sciences Yury Osipov, sculptor Zurab Tsereteli, conductor Valery Gergiev, conductor Yury Bashmet, art critic Olga Sviblova, writer Victor Erofeev and deputy, polar explorer Artur Chilingarov subscribed their names to it.

The letter says that this way they all want to express support for Kerimov, whom they have known as a benefactor for many years. "The amount and degree of his generosity in supporting education and sports, providing medical assistance to children to maintain harmonious relations between religions, are huge," the letter says.

The signatories hope that the French side will treat the member of the Federation Council with "humanity and humanism, so that his life is not endangered, so that he is allowed to return to the medical help necessary to maintain his life." They remind that Kerimov suffered in a car accident in 2006 and now "his life is supported by a team of doctors, who provide him with a permanent complex treatment."

The authors also assure that Kerimov, who is charged in France with tax evasion and money laundering, "respects the law", and therefore will "cooperate fully with the investigation." Hence, the signatories, under their guarantees, ask the French authorities to allow the oligarch reunite with his family and continue working in the Federation Council. In other words, they practically ask to release him to Russia.

Currently the senator is at large on bail of 5 million euros. He was deprived of his Russian passport and was forbidden to leave France.

The knights ask the French president to release Kerimov for the sake of friendship between the countries and in virtue of humanism. "We ask you, Mr. President, and the people of France to show humanism and humanity at this moment towards our friend and demonstrate friendly attitude to the people of Russia, improve relations between our countries to great mutual benefit," the message says.

Mikhail Prokhorov, who also was detained in 2007 in the French resort of Courchevel, but released after three days without any charges, mentioned this fact of his biography in the letter as well. "I know from my own experience that the judicial system of France is built on observance of the guarantees provided by law and the principles of a law-bound state," the businessman pens in the letter.

At the same time, Pavel Lungin admits that he signed the appeal because he simply decided to support a man who, in his words, encountered such a difficult situation rather than because he knows Kerimov intimately.

Kerimov was rounded up by employees of the French police in the airport of Nice overnight into November, 21. The investigation believes Kerimov purchased several villas at cut prices on the Cote d'Azur. According to various sources, this may refer to the amount of from 300 to 400 million euros. Accordingly, the amount of taxes unpaid for these transactions may reach tens of millions of euros.

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