Statoil boss cancels Putin conference

Statoil's chief executive Helge Lund has cancelled a planned visit to a Russian investment conference headlined by President Vladimir Putin after the US asked business heads not to attend.

Statoil boss cancels Putin conference
Helge Lund presenting Statoil's first quarter results on Tuesday. Photo: Lise Åserud/NTB scanpix
"Statoil confirms CEO Helge Lund will not attend the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum next week. Statoil's delegation at the summit will be led by Executive Vice President Tim Dodson," Knut Rostad, a company spokesman, told Norway's Dagens Næringsliv newspaper.  
The US government at the end of this month began pressing business leaders to stay away from the conference, which has long been Russia's most important investment event. 
"The understanding is that those that choose to go will be on the Obama administration’s dog list,” a participant of a closed meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce’s in Moscow told the New York Times. 
Alcoa, Pepsico, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley have all confirmed that their chief executives will no longer be attending the conference, all though all have been replaced by senior figures. 
According to the Russian business paper Kommersant, the total number of foreigners attending the forum has sunk by 40 percent compared with last year's figures. 
However, Jon Fredrik Baksaas, the chief executive of Norwegian phone giant Telenor, will still be attending the conference, reflecting the company's 35.7 percent stake in Russian mobile phone company Vimpelcom and its major investments throughout the former Soviet Union. 
While Statoil is working with Russian state energy giant Rosneft to develop the country's hugely prospective Arctic shelf, unlike Telenor it also has a large position in the US.

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Norway accuses Russia over cyber attack on parliament

Norway's government on Tuesday said that it believes Russia was behind an August cyber attack targeting the email system of the country's parliament.

Norway accuses Russia over cyber attack on parliament
The parliament building in Oslo. File photo: AFP

The attack was detected in August, when Norway announced hackers had attacked the parliament's email system, gaining access to some lawmakers' messages.

“Based on the information the government has, it is our view that Russia is responsible for these activities,” foreign minister Ine Eriksen Søreide said in a statement.

The foreign ministry did not specify what information prompted its conclusions, but encouraged companies to follow guidelines on cyber security.

“This is a very serious incident, affecting our most important democratic institution,” she added.

In its annual threat assessment published in February, Norway's PST domestic intelligence service warned of “computer network operations” which they said represented a “persistent and long-term threat to Norway”.

In 2018, NATO member Norway arrested a Russian national suspected of gathering information on the parliament's internet network, but released him several weeks later due to lack of evidence.

The two countries, which share a common border in the Arctic, have generally enjoyed good relations but those have become strained since Russian annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014.

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