British businesses needs guarantees that assets will not be “unlawfully taken away from them” before they can start work in Russia, Prime Minister David Cameron said on Monday during a visit to Moscow.
“I’ve talked to many British businesses. I have no doubt about their ambition to work in Russia, but it’s also clear that the concerns that continue to make them hold back are real,” Cameron told students at Moscow State University.
“They need to know that they can go to a court confident that a contract will be enforced objectively and that their assets and premises won’t be unlawfully taken away from them. In the long run the rule of law is what delivers stability and security,” he said.
Cameron is accompanied on the first visit by a British header to Russia since 2005 by a large business delegation, including BP head Bob Dudley. BP’s Moscow offices were raided by bailiffs two weeks ago.
Cameron also said Britain and Russia still had disagreements over the death of former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006.
“We still disagree with you over the Litvinenko case. On that, let me say this. Our approach is simple and principled. When a crime is committed that is a matter for the courts. It is their job to examine the evidence impartially and to determine innocence or guilt,” he said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had suggested before Cameron’s visit that the British prime minister refrain from bringing up the case, which was a major cause in he deterioration of bilateral relations.
Cameron is expected to meet Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin during his brief visit. Whitehall officials revealed last week that there had been no direct contact between Putin and British ministers or diplomats since 2007.