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Kremlin says it won't politicize Yukos ruling

By Daniel J. Graeber
Russian President Vladimir Putin gets a win after a Dutch court overturns the ruling against the Kremlin in a case against dissolved oil company Yukos. Pool photo by Chip Somodevilla/UPI
Russian President Vladimir Putin gets a win after a Dutch court overturns the ruling against the Kremlin in a case against dissolved oil company Yukos. Pool photo by Chip Somodevilla/UPI | License Photo

MOSCOW, April 20 (UPI) -- A spokesman for the Kremlin said Wednesday the Russian government won't politicize its victory in a Dutch court in a battle with former Yukos Oil Co.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2014 ruled that the Kremlin is liable for around $50 billion in damages in the case against Yukos, which was disbanded in 2006.

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Former Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovsky was arrested in 2003 and convicted of tax evasion and theft in 2005. The company was then sold off, with most of the shares going to Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft, controlled by Igor Sechin, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin.

The European Court of Human Rights followed the Dutch court's decision and ordered the Russian government to pay shareholders of Yukos around $2.6 billion in damages, but a district court in The Hague overturned the ruling Wednesday, saying the permanent court lacked jurisdiction.

The Kremlin made that argument in 2014. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that, despite the win, the government was maintaining a legal posture on the decision.

"We are speaking about judicial proceedings, I would by no means politicize it," he said.

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A spokesman for the Justice Ministry told state news agency Itar-TASS, however, the government "will seek compensation for all expenses incurred in judicial proceedings initiated by Yukos."

GML, a company representing the interests of Yukos shareholders, said the state seizure of the company was a politically motivated move from the Kremlin itself. In a statement cited by the BBC, GML Director Tim Osborne said the fight isn't over.

"We will appeal this surprise decision by The Hague Court and have full faith that the rule of law and justice will ultimately prevail," he said.

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