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Hague court verdict in oil company Yukos vs Russia affair political - experts

July 29, 2014, 17:09 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara

MOSCOW, July 29. /ITAR-TASS/. The Hague arbitration court verdict in the oil company Yukos shareholder lawsuit against Russia is flatly political and does not stand professional legal criticism, Russian experts polled by ITAR-TASS said. The court ordered Russia to pay $50 billion compensation to shareholders, though they had claimed $114 billion.

“Hague arbitration court has made a ruling on the basis of a European Energy Charter constituting a scope of political statements, purely declarative and moreover not ratified by Russia,” Director of the Institute of Globalization Problems Mikhail Delyagin told ITAR-TASS.

“Meanwhile, the EU Energy Charter Treaty does not empower business people not to pay taxes to state authorities, as was the case in the Yukos affair. The Hague court took into account the Yukos tax evasion case in Russia, thus finding accusations brought against the company by Russian legal instances lawful. So, the court indirectly agreed with the fact that Yukos had taken action that resulted in its bankruptcy,” the expert said.

“Russian courts have issued concrete charges against Yukos and plaintiffs in the court have just described an atmosphere 'in Putin-era Russia'. With this in view, the court had passed its verdict. This verdict is purely political because judges are not professionals in tax legislation,” Delyagin added.

“With due account of the political nature of the verdict, Russia’s appeal will be turned down mostly likely. But in fact, Yukos will not receive any payments from Russia,” he said.

“The verdict resulted from political interference by former CEO and majority Yukos stockholder Mikhail Khodorkovsky in the trial. The latter has been jailed in two criminal cases since 2003 and was pardoned by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision,” ITAR-TASS Political Analysis Centre director Pavel Danilin says. “$50 billion includes the whole cost of the company. But Yukos capitalization was earlier estimated at $9 billion,” the expert said.

“Certainly, the court decision is political and should be taken against the backdrop of the West’s common pressure on Russia,” director of the analytical department of Alpari Group Alexander Razuvayev noted. "It should be recalled that the Yukos bankruptcy procedure passed strictly according to law. With due account of subsidiaries’ liabilities, all Yukos assets were sold at fair prices. As a whole, Yukos has never cost $50 billion. This was just a goal declared after the planned merger with [Russian oil major] Sibneft.

“Forecasting developments, it can be assumed that further litigations will be long and no matter how they end, Russia will pay nothing to former Yukos owners. This is a matter of principle for Putin and for sovereignty of the country,” the expert said.

“Russia will have to set its top priority: What is more important for the country - its independence, sovereignty or international legal provisions being drafted under Western pressure?” Director of the Centre of Military and Political Research at Moscow State University of International Relations (MGIMO) Aleksey Podberezkin told ITAR-TASS.

“When Russia has supported international legal acts prevailing over domestic legislation, the country could not imagine that one country or several of its allies will determine these international provisions," he said.

“Russia also could not assume that the West will dictate these international standards whoever likes so to do and in their own interests. On the one hand, Kosovo’s secession from former Yugoslavia and recognition of its independence set a bright example of this [tendency] and, on the other hand, rejection of Crimea’s integration in Russia,” the analyst said.

“It is essentially important for Russia to give up international rules detrimental to the country, as the United States does, not recognizing the International Criminal Court in The Hague,” Podberezkin said.


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