Chief Correspondent, Vienna, Vienna
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May 11, 2014

Austria’s Conchita Wurst hails Eurovision victory over intolerance

VIENNA, May 11 (Reuters) – Conchita Wurst came home to a
heroine’s welcome in Austria on Sunday after the bearded drag
queen won the Eurovision Song Contest in what she called a
victory over the forces of intolerance, including Russian leader
Vladimir Putin.

Sporting high heels, a tight dress, butterfly eyelashes and
a full beard, Wurst – whose birth name is Tom Neuwirth – swept
to victory with her “Rise Like a Phoenix” ballad before a global
TV audience of about 180 million people in 45 countries.

Apr 16, 2014

Hypo bank woes poison the mood in Austria

VIENNA, April 16 (Reuters) – Hypo Alpe Adria, the state bank
whose woes will swell Austria’s debt and deficits this year, is
morphing into a national bogeyman for a country fed up with the
lender’s chronic need for support and policymakers’ failure to
resolve the issue.

More than four years after the state’s emergency takeover,
Hypo has moved beyond being Austria’s worst post-war financial
debacle to become a lightning rod for grass-roots criticism of
banks and the government ahead of European elections next month.

Apr 11, 2014

Raiffeisen Zentralbank core tier 1 ratio falls to 9.9 pct

VIENNA, April 11 (Reuters) – Raiffeisen Zentralbank’s
core tier 1 capital ratio fell 1 percentage point to
9.9 percent of risk-weighted assets at the end of 2013 under
local accounting rules as weak eastern European currencies hit
its balance sheet, the Austrian lender said on Friday.

The unlisted parent of Raiffeisen Bank International
– the second-biggest lender in central and eastern
Europe (CEE) – is one of six Austrian banks to come under direct
supervision of the European Central Bank later this year.

Apr 10, 2014

Ukrainian activist claims he was tortured in Crimea

VIENNA (Reuters) – A Ukrainian activist said on Thursday he was abducted and tortured by a pro-Russian faction in Crimea in an 11-day ordeal before he was released in a prisoner swap last month.

Andrei Shchekun spoke to reporters in Vienna on the sidelines of a conference on torture hosted by the Organization for Security and Co-operation’s human rights arm, after being introduced by U.S. ambassador to the OSCE Daniel Baer.

Apr 3, 2014

Volksbanken says it can pass EU health check without more state aid

VIENNA, April 3 (Reuters) – Austrian bank Volksbanken AG
has enough capital to pass a European-wide health
check this year without needing more state aid as it presses
ahead with radical restructuring plan, it said on Thursday.

Getting Volksbanken – which failed a similar test in 2011 –
back onto solid ground would be a relief for Austria’s
government as it grapples with another nationalised bank, Hypo
Alpe Adria [HAABI.UL, whose chronic need for capital will
sharply inflate state debt and the budget deficit this year.

Apr 2, 2014

Austrian president poised for rare Western visit to Iran

VIENNA (Reuters) – Austrian President Heinz Fischer has ‘in principle’ accepted an invitation to visit Iran, his office said on Wednesday, in what would be the first trip for many years by a Western head of state.

Under President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate who was elected last year, Iran has started to improve relations with the West by engaging with world powers over its disputed nuclear program.

Mar 27, 2014

Raiffeisen sticks to Russia as profits top forecasts

VIENNA, March 27 (Reuters) – Raiffeisen Bank International
(RBI) said it was committed to its Russian business
and played down potential problems in Ukraine that have cast a
shadow over central and eastern Europe’s number two lender.

But it was so concerned about the crisis in Ukraine – which
is locked in a confrontation with Russia over Moscow’s
annexation of Crimea – that it said previous targets for lending
and risk provisioning now depended on how those events play out.

Mar 19, 2014

Austrian MPs grill Iranian foreign minister over rights

VIENNA (Reuters) – Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif defended Iran’s human rights record to Austrian members of parliament on Wednesday but acknowledged there was room for improvement, according to people who took part in the meeting.

In Vienna for Iran’s nuclear negotiations with big powers, Zarif met members of parliament’s foreign affairs committee for talks on Iranian relations with the West, its nuclear program, human rights and the situation in Syria, participants said.

Mar 18, 2014

Ukraine’s Firtash says his detention ‘political’, raps U.S.

VIENNA (Reuters) – Ukrainian industrialist Dmytro Firtash, arrested in Austria last week at the request of the United States pending his possible extradition for suspected corruption, accused Washington on Tuesday of having him detained for “purely political” reasons.

Firtash, one of Ukraine’s most influential oligarchs, thrived under ousted President Viktor Yanukovich and has close ties to Russia through his gas business, but U.S. and Austrian authorities deny his detention is linked to the current tense East-West standoff over Ukraine’s breakaway region of Crimea.

Mar 14, 2014

U.S. to seek extradition of Ukrainian industrialist

WASHINGTON/VIENNA, March 14 (Reuters) – The U.S. government
will ask Austria to extradite Ukrainian industrialist Dmytro
Firtash to face charges filed in a Chicago court arising from an
investigation into international corruption, U.S. prosecutors
said on Friday.

One of Ukraine’s most influential oligarchs, Firtash, 48,
was arrested in Vienna on Wednesday. On Friday, a court there
ordered him held and set bail at $174 million (125 million

    • About Michael

      "Mike has worked for Reuters for two decades and reported from more than a dozen countries on business and general news. His beats have included covering the European automotive industry, business news from Switzerland, German defense and security policy, and Hungary's transition to a market democracy after the collapse of communism in eastern Europe"
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