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Altimo, Telenor trade insults again

13 ноября 2008

The long-running dispute between Telenor and its partner Altimo took another turn on Wednesday when the Russian company accused Telenor of monitoring phone calls and emails, and employing surveillance firms to monitor its management.

The accusations, which came in an open letter from Altimo to Telenor chairman Harald Norvik, were immediately refuted by the Norwegian incumbent. Telenore described them as merely a bid to divert attention from the legal battle between the pair linked to their shareholdings in the Ukraine.

Telenor and Altimo share control of Russia's Vimpelcom and Kyivstar in the Ukraine, but their relationship has been consistently stormy in recent years.

The latest court hearing involving Telenor and Altimo will take place on 18 November in Omsk, Siberia, at which Telenor will appeal an earlier ruling requiring it to pay $2.8 billion in damages to Vimpelcom for delaying its entry into the Ukrainian market.

"The letter from Altimo diverts attention away from more important issues, such as the upcoming hearing in the Farimex case," Telenor said in a statement.

British Virgin Islands-registered Farimex Products is a minority shareholder in Vimpelcom. It brought the case against Telenor, alleging that the latter delayed Vimpelcom's takeover of Ukrainian Radio Systems. Telenor believes Farimex to be acting on behalf of Altimo.

In Wednesday's letter, Altimo chairman Andrei Kosogov said he has resorted to this course of action as previous attempts to air its grievances in private have been ignored.

The Russian company claims to have "a wide range of documentary evidence which suggests there has been questionable activity directed at Altimo," and its advisory board.

It goes on to list its allegations, which include the interception of emails and telephone calls, the monitoring of Altimo's management and shareholders by surveillance companies, and black PR campaigns in the U.K. and Russian media "to try to discredit Altimo, its parent company Alfa Group, and its shareholders involving methods such as payments to journalists and newspapers."

In the letter, Altimo urges Telenor to investigate and respond to the allegations, "and explain what Telenor's role in the above has been."

Telenor did not waste any time in responding, describing the letter as "absurd and unfounded".

"The documents either have nothing to do with Telenor or have been clearly altered or forged," the telco said in a statement.

"In addition, a number of the entities named in the attachments to the letter have nothing to do with Telenor," it added. "Telenor therefore cannot take the accusations seriously."

Источник: Total Telecom

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