Russian Billionaire's Ship Implicated in Transporting Weapons to Syria
Russian billionaire, Vladimir Lisin, is caught in the middle of the growing scandal related to a shipment of Russian weapons to the Syrian Assad regime.
Mr. Lisin has been identified as the owner of the shipping company that allegedly shipped a full cargo of weapons to Syria from St. Petersburg, Russia two weeks ago. The claims concern the cargo delivered by the Professor Katsman, a container ship, which docked in Tartus, Syria's second biggest port, on May 26, one day after the massacre of more than 100 people in Houla – according to the Brisbane Times.
The U.S. has expressed extreme concern regarding the ship’s docking, and Britain’s government has been urged to reevaluate Lisin’s morality and position as the official Russian delegate for the 2012 Olympic Games.
The Professor Katsman is registered to North-Western Shipping Company, which is owned by Universal Cargo Logistics (UCL), one of several businesses in the Lisin billion-dollar empire. The firm confirmed that the container vessel had docked in Syria, but said it had no knowledge of the cargo's contents. The cargo had been reportedly placed in sealed containers and passed by Russian customs officials. The shipping documentation listed the goods as general cargo and electrical equipment.
The shipping company maintains that they are not in the wrong for transporting goods, as there are no sanctions against Syria at this time. Nonetheless, the shipment spotlights the Assad regime’s role as Russia’s largest weapons clients from the Middle East. The cargo is assumed to be from Russian-owned arms exporter, Rosoboronexport.
A source close to Lisin insisted he took no management role in his shipping companies, and therefore was very unlikely to know about a particular cargo. His spokesman said all future shipments would be checked to ensure no harmful items would be transported to Syria, again reports the Brisbane Times.