* Previous YUKOS lawyer says Russia dangerous for business
* Sent e-mail to 1,000 Russian forum participants
By Jessica Bachman
MOSCOW, June 11 A week before Russia rolls out
its largest annual economic forum, an ex-lawyer for YUKOS who
currently heads a nonprofit organization promoting transparency
in business warned almost 1,000 foreign participants against
going into the event with rose-colored glasses.
In a mass e-mail sent late on Thursday, Pavel Ivlev, who
fled Russia in 2005 and now leads the Committee for Russian
Economic Freedom, reminded participants including Citigroup
(C.N) Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit and ConocoPhillips
(COP.N) head James Mulva that Russia is an "extremely
dangerous" place to do business.
"As you listen to Russian officials and businessmen discuss
potential gold mines in investing in Russia, be mindful that
there are numerous land mines as well," reads the final line of
Several European leaders, including French President
Nicolas Sarkozy, are expected to attend the international
economic forum, which opens in Russia's second city of Saint
Petersburg on June 17.
The three-day event is Russia's answer to Davos in
Switzerland, where foreign corporate and political leaders come
to clinch billions of dollars worth of contracts and hobnob
with the creme de la creme of Russia's political and business
Ivlev, a former lawyer for oil firm YUKOS, told Reuters on
Friday his e-mail was a "call to action."
"I am not suggesting a boycott of the forum; rather I am
calling on the business community to stop being quiet and start
speaking out about the lack of transparency and rule in law in
Russia," he said by telephone from the United States.
Ivlev worked for an independent law firm in Moscow that
represented YUKOS, the former oil giant dissolved by the
Kremlin and bankrupted in 2007.
Charges were brought against Ivlev in 2005 for theft, money
laundering and helping YUKOS in tax evasion schemes, two years
after his client, the company's former CEO Mikhail
Khodorkovsky, was arrested and jailed.
Khodorkovsky, in prison in eastern Siberia, is now facing a
second round of trials, also on charges of theft and money
(Reporting by Jessica Bachman)