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Russia may seek Constitutional Court’s opinion on Europe’s Yukos ruling enforcement

March 31, 18:19 UTC+3 ST. PETERSBURG
The ECHR ruled on July 31, 2014 to award over €1.866 billion in compensation payments to former Yukos shareholders under their complaint filed against Russia
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© Vadim Zhernov/ITAR-TASS

ST. PETERSBURG, March 31. /TASS/. Russia’s Justice Ministry may request the Constitutional Court’s opinion on the possibility of enforcing the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on the Yukos oil company, Plenipotentiary Envoy at the ECHR, Deputy Justice Minister Georgy Matyushkin said on Thursday.

"So far, it is early to speak on the issue. The ministry is working on it so far," Matyushkin said. ‘We need to discuss the issue with colleagues. We are trying to prepare for the processes, which we initiate," the deputy justice minister said.

"We do not rule out such a possibility," he said in reply to a journalists’ question.

The deputy justice minister said earlier "the authorities of the Russian Federation will proceed from the need to protect the country’s sovereign interests in the enforcement of the ruling on the Yukos case."

The ECHR ruled on July 31, 2014 to award over €1.866 billion in compensation payments to former Yukos shareholders under their complaint filed against Russia.

The ECHR concluded that Russian courts had breached article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights stipulating the right to a fair trial when they had examined Yukos taxation issues in the early 2000s because the company had not been given enough time to prepare for its defense.

The court also obliged Russia to pay €300,000 to former Yukos shareholders as compensation for their judicial expenses.

Russia was expected to submit a plan of action to the Council of Europe before June 15, 2015 on compensation payments to former Yukos shareholders but refused to do so.

Deputy Justice Minister Matyushkin said on July 10 Russia’s further steps in executing an additional resolution of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of ex-Yukos shareholders would be based on the Russian Constitutional Court’s legal position.

Russia’s Constitutional Court ruled in mid-July that the ECHR’s rulings could be enforced in Russia, only if they didn’t contradict the country’s Fundamental Law.

An ECHR ruling that is passed under a complaint against Russia and contradicts the Russian Constitution "cannot be fulfilled," a Constitutional Court official said.

Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov said earlier the Justice Ministry was ready to initiate an inquiry with the Constitutional Court over the interpretation of the ruling passed by the European Court of Human Rights on Yukos oil company.

"I believe we can’t do without this. We’re ready to initiate this inquiry," he said.

Yukos case

Yukos oil giant was accused of tax crimes and declared a bankrupt by a Russian court ruling in 2006 while its assets were sold at auctions during the liquidation procedure.

Yukos former head Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev were found guilty of embezzlement and tax evasion in May 2005 and sentenced to nine years in prison.

While serving their prison term, both Khodorkovsky and Lebedev were found guilty of embezzlement and money laundering in a second criminal case in December 2010 and sentenced to 14 years in prison, with account taken of the jail term they had served.

Khodorkovsky was pardoned by Russian President Vladimir Putin and left the prison in December 2013. Lebedev was released from the jail in early 2014.

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