Moscow — Russian President Vladimir Putin called for fewer criminal proceedings against businesses on Wednesday, days after the arrest of a prominent US investor in Moscow. “In order to achieve the great tasks our country faces, we need to get rid of everything that limits business freedom,” Putin said in his annual state of the nation address. He said “honest businesses” should not “constantly feel the risk of criminal or administrative punishment”. A business can fall apart due to probes “launched for unclear reasons”, causing 130 people on average to lose their jobs, Putin said. Last week, Russia arrested prominent US and French investors on suspicion of fraud. The arrest of the American head of a major investment firm Michael Calvey sent shockwaves through Western business circles. Calvey, the founder of the Baring Vostok private equity firm, has been placed in pre-trial detention in a Moscow jail along with several other suspects. They are accused of defrauding Vostochny Bank o...

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