Sanctioned Russian gas company enlists D.C. lobbyists


Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with local officials in Voronezh, Russia, Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Presidential Press Service)

A Russian gas company enlisted the help of a D.C.-based lobbying firm in dealing with the U.S. government days before the Obama administration hit it with those pesky sanctions.

In a lobbying disclosure filing dated July 10, QorvisMSL, LLC reported it had a new client: OAO Novatek, a major gas producer in Russia. On July 17, that company was added to Obama’s sanctions list. The new business relationship was reported Wednesday by the National Journal.

The disclosure form specifies that the firm will lobby on the sanctions as well as the Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014, a wide-ranging Republican Senate bill that directs harsher sanctions and more U.S. intervention in eastern Ukraine.

When Novatek was added to the sanctions list, the company put out a statement that it “is a privately listed company not conducting any business activities in Ukraine, nor does it have any impact on the political and economic processes taking place on its territory. … Including the Company into the List is not justified.”

The lobbying form lists Loretta Prencipe and Ayal Frank as the lobbyists assigned to the job. According to their bios on Qorvis’ Web site, Prencipe had worked for the Department of Energy in communications and Frank worked on the Hill for Rep. James Maloney (D-Conn.), helping with Armed Services Committee issues.

The Center for Public Integrity notes that a “major shareholder” of the Novatek gas company is buddies with none other than Russian President Vladimir Putin:

One of OAO Novatek’s largest shareholders is Gennady Timchenko, according to Reuters, whose longtime association with Putin goes back to their days as sparring partners in St. Petersburg’s Yawara-Neva judo club. The State Department has termed Timchenko a member of Putin’s “inner circle.” According to Forbes magazine, Timchenko is worth $14.5 billion.

Qorvis’s other clients include the Kingdom of Bahrain, Republic of Sri Lanka, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq. We’re awaiting further comment from Qorvis.

Colby Itkowitz is a national reporter for In The Loop.
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