Photo: Oleg Galushko with his family.A Russian businessman, Oleg Galushko (Galouchko), was detained in Finland in February 2013 on an Interpol extradition request from Russia. Mr Galushko’s Russian lawyer contended that the charges against his client were fabricated and feared what would happen to him were Finland to extradite him to Russia. Mr Galushko has dual Russian and Canadian citizenship. Mr Galushko acquired the Ryazan-based aluminium factory, Okamet, in 2001. He invested USD 5 million in the plant’s modernisation. In 2003-2004, an affiliate to Russia’s largest aluminium producer, RUSAL, offered to buy Okamet for a fraction of the plant’s real worth. When Mr Galushko refused to sell, Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) began to blackmail him. In March 2005, the FSB initiated a criminal case against MetSlav, which exported Okamet’s products, for alleged smuggling and tax evasion. In August 2006, similar charges were brought against Mr Galushko. Due to constant harassment by the FSB, Okamet and MetSlav were forced into bankruptcy. Okamet’s assets were transferred to a company affiliated with RUSAL. In 2008, Mr Galushko was tipped off that his stubborn refusal to sell off his company would lead to his arrest, and that his incarceration would be used to “convince” him to agree to RUSAL’s offer. Faced with possible arrest and fearing for his life, Mr Galushko fled Russia. He had incurred financial losses amounting to USD 20-25 million due to the case. Mr Galushko began building a legal case against the Russian state. The FSB responded by issuing an Interpol arrest warrant on him in 2010. None of the countries Mr Galushko visited in the EU and elsewhere reacted to the arrest warrant. In February 2013, however, Mr Galushko was taken from a plane and arrested at Helsinki Airport. He has been held in Vantaa Prison since. Charges on three other people in the case against Okamet and MetSlav were dropped as the statute of limitations expired in 2011. Russia’s arrest warrant on Mr Galushko expired on 18 April 2013, but since Interpol was not informed about this, the Interpol arrest warrant remained in force. Russia sent a formal extradition request to Finland in early March 2013. Mr Galushko’s lawyer considered extradition to Russia highly likely because of the close relations between Russia and Finland. Mr Galushko’s family said he would face lethal danger to his health in pre-trial detention were he to be extradited. The family pointed out that there were profound concerns regarding Mr Galushko’s right to a fair trial. Mr Galushko’s family noted that the case against him had nothing to do with justice, but was another example of corporate raiding by Russia’s “law enforcement agencies.” The case was fabricated by the FSB for the specific purpose of seizing Mr Galushko’s business and assets, the family said, pointing to parallels with the Magnitsky case. How will Finland react? The District Court of Vantaa will hold a third hearing on Mr Galushko’s continued detention on 26 April 2013 at 9 am. Mr Galushko has requested to be released on a travel ban. All his previous requests have been denied, however.
The Finnish-Russian Civic Forum (FINROSFORUM) promotes cooperation between the peoples of Finland and Russia by supporting civic initiatives for democracy, human rights, and free speech.
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