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2021.10.15 16:02

Lithuanian honorary consul linked to Putin's inner circle, Pandora Papers reveal

LRT.lt2021.10.15 16:02

Graziano Pedroja, the Honorary Consul of Lithuania in Switzerland, is closely connected to the Russian elite, the leaked Pandora Papers have revealed.

According to the Lithuanian investigative journalism centre Siena, Pedroja is close with Konstantin Goloshchapov, also known as “Putin’s massage therapist”, as well as a former Russian energy minister, Igor Yusufov.

The consul also has links to luxury real estate in Croatia, investigative journalism centre Oštro in the Balkan country has found.

In 2012, journalists reported that a complex of luxury villas on Croatia‘s Šipan island, nicknamed Kod Rusa, was linked to the Russian oligarch Goloshchapov, a close acquaintance of President Putin. The two men met during judo trainings and worked together in St Petersburg municipality before Putin was elected president.

The real estate was acquired through offshore companies, at least one of which is affiliated with Yusufov.

In 2014, Yusufov’s offshore company withdrew from the real estate’s management. Then, Consul Pedroja’s company Realty Investments took over Mikado, a Croatian firm related to Kod Rusa.

Realty Investments paid only 20,000 US dollars for the deal, suggesting that Yusufov remained the owner of the property. Pedroja refused to reveal who the owner was.

According to the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry, honorary consuls are subject to the requirement of good repute. The State Security Department (VSD) runs background checks of all candidates for this position.

Speaking with Siena, Pedroja said he had no links to the former Russian energy minister when he became an honorary consul of Lithuania in 2009.

Goloshchapov and Yusufov did not respond to journalists’ requests for comment.

Prompted by the revelations, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said it will reassess Pedroja’s suitability for honorary consul’s position.

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