A recent civil claim filed by, Vladimir Kokorev, a Russian businessmen residing in Spain, against the journalist of Spanish newspaper, EL PAIS, points to deliberate manipulation of facts and witness accounts in the articles signed by Jose Maria Irujo.
In particular, in the article titled “The ‘Mysterious’ Vladimir” (“El ‘Misterioso’ Vladimir”) published in EL PAIS on May 12th 2012, Jose Maria Irujo claims that Vladimir Kokorev, the former owner of the shipping company “Kalunga”, has never had any employees and that Kalunga had only conducted one business transaction, which was the purchase of three vessels for a Spanish company operating in Equatorial Guinea by the name of Hermanos Martinez, SL.
According to the civil claim filed against Jose Maria Irujo, which has been assigned to the First Instance Court nº 34 of Madrid, Vladimir Kokorev sent an extensive letter by registered delivery to Irujo and EL PAIS on March 12th 2012. Among the documents accompanying this letter was a notarized statement signed by over 240 former employees of Kalunga Company that has also been publicly available on the Kalunga crewmember’s blog since February 2010. Kokorev’s claim asserts that the Spanish journalist has chosen to ignore this and other evidence of which he was fully aware and which was available to him, including a statement issued before a Notary public and addressed to EL PAIS by Sergei Melnikov, a former captain of a Kalunga shipping vessel, Rio Mbini, detailing his involvement with Kalunga and the business that it carried out in Equatorial Guinea. This statement was later published by the Russian Consulate in Equatorial Guinea.
Both statements confirm Kalunga as being a genuine shipping company that had originally conducted small-scale cabotage and fish transportation operations, and later large-scale vessel building, replacement parts, machinery transportation and maintenance operations in Equatorial Guinea as well as in other African countries.
The claim also asserts that Jose Maria Irujo fails to mention that Vladimir Kokorev was never summoned, either as a witness or defendant, in any criminal proceedings, in Spain or any other country, and that the case of supposed, “money laundering” in which Irujo is implicating Mr. Kokorev, has not been admitted in Spanish courts.
In fact, on at least 5 separate occasions over the last two months EL PAIS has reprinted the same material published by another Spanish newspaper, EL MUNDO, in September 2009 under the title “A Russian couple suspected of money laundering for Teodoro Obiang” (“Investigan a una pareja de rusos por lavar dinero para Teodoro Obiang”).
In the instance of El Mundo, as reported by the Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI) a Moscow Court ordered EL MUNDO to refute its allegations concerning the Kokorevs published in their article and to publish on its web site the refutation of the false information, which damages the reputation of the plaintiffs Vladimir Kokorev and Julia Kokoreva.
According to RAPSI, it had been established during the hearings that the Spanish authorities did not have any claims whatsoever against Vladimir Kokorev and his wife and that that the supposedly “laundered” funds received by Vladimir Kokorev were attained in accordance with agreements entered into between Vladimir Kokorev’s company, Kalunga, and the government of Equatorial Guinea for the repairs and maintenance of a number of shipping vessels.
Media outlets Pravda, Odnako, Arguments & Facts and the Russian Consulate in Equatorial Guinea attribute the Spanish media’s attack on Kokorev as a means to serve financial speculation and to destabilize the diplomatic relations between Spain and Equatorial Guinea, an oil-rich African country and former Spanish colony. The same publication also suggests that EL PAIS journalist, Jose Maria Irujo, is also an employee of the Spanish National Intelligence Centre (CNI).
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