(Adds quotes, company reaction, background)
KIEV, March 20 Russian authorities have taken
over a Ukrainian-owned confectionery factory located in the
Russian city of Lipetsk and halted production, the Ukrainian
government said on Thursday.
Russian riot police took control of the Roshen factory on
Wednesday and authorities had produced no documentation to
justify "bursting on to the company's property", a joint
statement from Ukraine's Foreign and Economic Ministries said.
A company spokeswoman said Russian authorities were
investigating the firm, which was caught up in a trade row
between Ukraine and Russia last year. Roshen's accounts in
Russian banks had been frozen on March 14, she added.
"Their presence at our companies in Russia is based on the
opening of a criminal investigation into Roshen's companies
which are registered in Russia, including the Lipetsk factory,"
Inna Petrenko said.
She said she did not know the reason for the incident or
what was likely to happen next.
Although the cause of the investigation was not immediately
clear, it comes at a time of heightened tensions between Russia
and Ukraine over the former's decision to annex the Black Sea
peninsula of Crimea.
Last year, Russia also halted confectionery imports from
Roshen in Ukraine citing health concerns, part of a series of
trade restrictions on both sides.
The joint ministry statement said the incident "set a
dangerous precedent, which could backfire".
"Now there is reason to believe that Russian authorities are
setting about the actual confiscation of Roshen's production
facilities located in Russia," the statement said.
(Reporting by Natalia Zinets, Writing by Mike Collett-White,
Editing by Angus MacSwan)