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ECHR Awards Billions to Yukos Shareholders

Published: August 1, 2014 (Issue # 1822)

  • Yukos was bankrupted by multibillion-dollar back-tax claims that the company’s owners maintain were politically motivated.
    Photo: Denis Grishkin / Vedomosti

The European Court of Human Rights awarded the shareholders of defunct oil giant Yukos $2.6 billion in compensation Thursday, a ruling that has left political and legal analysts split about its significance for Russia's relations with the West.

Handed down at the height of tensions between Russia and the West over the crisis in Ukraine, the Strasbourg court's ruling comes on the heels of The Hague arbitration court's order Monday that Russia pay Yukos shareholders $50 billion in compensation by Jan. 15, 2015.

The oil company was bankrupted by multibillion-dollar back-tax claims that the company's owners maintain were politically motivated.

The ECHR ruled that the penalties imposed on the company through tax proceedings that stripped it of 300 billion rubles in 2004 and 2005 were "unlawful" and that Russian authorities had "failed to strike a fair balance" in their dealings with the company. The ECHR purported that the "disproportionate character" of the enforcement proceedings had catalyzed the company's liquidation.

Russia said it would appeal the award, with the Justice Ministry rejecting the ruling as an unfair and inequitable approach to the case and saying that the amounts awarded in compensation should not have been determined by the Strasbourg-based court, ITAR-Tass reported. It said earlier it would also appeal the arbitration court's ruling.

The timing of the ECHR and Hague arbitration court rulings, as well as the vertiginous amounts of compensation won by Yukos shareholders — the ECHR ruling is the biggest compensation award in the court's history — have sparked speculation that the rulings were molded by politics.

"I think the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights is politicized," said Alexander Nadmitov, managing partner at Nadmitov, Ivanov & Partners, a prominent Russian law firm. "There might have been procedural violations during the [original Yukos] case but the decision seems to be tainted by politics given the unprecedented size of the awarded compensation. It now puts in question Russia's participation in the Council of Europe."

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Saturday, Sept. 20

Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.

Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.

Sunday, Sept. 21

Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during today’s “Djembe and Vuvuzela,” a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.

Monday, Sept. 22

Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.

Tuesday, Sept. 23

Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of today’s round table discussion on “Interaction with Trade Unions” being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.

Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.

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