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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, Nov. 1

The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at today’s Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nation’s premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.

Sunday, Nov. 2

Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.

Monday, Nov. 3

Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the city’s elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.

Tuesday, Nov. 4

Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolan’s latest film “Mommy” at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.

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