Russia will remember De Margerie with greatest warmth, says Putin
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In a telegram sent to French President Francois Hollande, the Russian President said he was "shocked by the news" after the jet carrying Christophe De Margerie crashed into a snow plough at Moscow's Vnukovo airport, killing all on board.
The Russian president described the 63 year old as an outstanding entrepreneur and a real friend of Russia.
He described De Margerie as "an outstanding French entrepreneur who originated many major joint projects that formed the basis of many years of fruitful cooperation between Russia and France in the energy sector."
"In Christophe de Margerie, we lost a real friend of our country, whom we will remember with the greatest warmth," Putin said.
Putin asked Hollande to "pass on the most sincere condolences and words of sympathy" to De Margerie's family and loved ones.
Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the president had known the French oil boss for a long time and "highly esteemed De Margerie's business qualities and his consistent devotion to developing not only bilateral Russia-French relations, but also mutually rewarding multi-faceted cooperation as a whole."
Meanwhile, Russian investigators said that the air crash was caused by criminal negligence on the part of senior airport officials.
"It was not a terrible tragic series of circumstances... but criminal negligence by officials" who failed to ensure that airport staff coordinated their duties, the Investigative Committee probing the accident said in a statement.