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Kremlin says hopes for release of arrested foreign investors

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Moscow (AFP)

Russia hopes arrested US investor Michael Calvey will be allowed to attend an economic conference this week while his jailed French colleague will be released in the future.

The comment by the Kremlin marks a possible shift in the high-profile criminal case against Calvey, the founder of Baring Vostok, one of the oldest private equity firms focusing on Russia.

Speaking to journalists, Dmitry Peskov, Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, said the Kremlin "would prefer that (Calvey) didn't have problems with the law and instead participated in the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum".

The forum, which starts on Thursday, is Russia's main international economic event and a showpiece hosted by Putin.

The US Embassy in Moscow has said its ambassador will skip the event to protest Calvey's arrest, leading to speculation of a wider US boycott.

Calvey was arrested in February along with five others on fraud charges and held in pre-trial detention in Moscow.

In April a court ruled to move him to house arrest but a French executive at Baring Vostok, Philippe Delpal, and four other suspects remain behind bars awaiting trial.

In an interview with state-funded RT channel earlier Monday, Peskov said the Kremlin hoped that Delpal also "will be freed" in the end.

Calvey's arrest came as a shock to the investment community, with even some figures close to the government saying the case is over a shareholder dispute rather than a criminal offence.

In a statement, Baring Vostok said it will treat the forum as an opportunity to discuss the case with the business community.

"Michael Calvey is also registered as a participant and hopes to take part in the event, and we will submit a request to this effect to the Investigative Committee in the near future," it said.

Asked whether Calvey would be allowed to travel to the forum from Moscow and meet with Putin, Peskov said the decision was not up to the Kremlin.

"We don't know what sort of decision will be taken," he said.

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