epa06460666 A woman walks in the snow in front of the Belvedere Hotel two days prior to the 48th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum, WEF, in Davos, Switzerland, Sunday, January 21, 2018. The meeting brings together enterpreneurs, scientists, chief executive and political leaders in Davos January 23 to 26. EPA/LAURENT GILLIERON
Davos, the site of the World Economic Forum © EPA

The World Economic Forum in Davos has lifted its ban on three sanctioned Russian businessmen, state-run newswires reported, after Moscow threatened to boycott the event in protest.

Russia will send a full delegation to the January event in the Swiss ski resort after its organisers rescinded their decision to bar aluminium tycoon Oleg Deripaska, industrialist Viktor Vekselberg and Andrei Kostin, head of one of Russia’s biggest banks, from the forum.

“Because the organisers of the Davos forum have changed their minds and lifted the restrictions imposed on the Russian businessmen earlier, an official governmental delegation will travel to Davos and participate in the forum,” two Russian state-run newswires quoted a Russian government source as saying.

The Financial Times had earlier reported that the event had informed the three men, who are subject to US sanctions, that they were not welcome at the event. All three had been longtime attendees.

In response, Russia’s government had threatened to completely boycott the event, one of the world’s most prestigious gatherings of high-level political and business figures.

“The level of the delegation and its composition will be determined later,” RIA and TASS news agencies quoted the source as saying.

Russian officials had previously told the FT that Moscow and Davos had been in discussions to find a compromise that would allow a delegation to attend the event.

Spokespersons for the World Economic Forum, Mr Vekselberg and Mr Deripaska did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A spokesman for Mr Kostin declined to comment.

All three men have attended Davos in the past. Mr Deripaska’s glitzy party has become a staple of the mountainside event’s evening entertainment and a sought-after invitation, while Mr Vekselberg also has significant business interests in Switzerland.

The trio were hit by US sanctions in April that banned them from doing business with US citizens and froze their US assets. Yet while the sanctions do not ban them from entering Switzerland, officials told the FT that the forum had bowed to demands from Washington.

Their initial ban was seen as undermining attempts by the forum to get Russian president Vladimir Putin to attend. The president has not visited the event since 2009.

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