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MOSCOW, March 19. /TASS/. The execution of a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on paying €1.8 billion in compensation to former Yukos shareholders is voluntary for Russia, Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov said on Thursday.
"The procedure of challenging [the court’s ruling] has been completed. From the ECHR’s viewpoint, the process is over and the talk is now about executing the decision. As for how to execute it, only the procedure for the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe is prescribed to monitor the execution of the decision," the justice minister said, adding Russia was denied a review of the case.
"There are no tight timeframes there. They will recommend executing it and remind of the need to carry it through. But no sanctions are stipulated. That is why, this is a free will of a state," the justice minister said.
The European Court of Human Rights is "a subsidiary body relative to the country’s legal system," he said.
That is why, the execution of these decisions is a free will of a Council of Europe member state, the justice minister said.
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 2000 because the company had not been given enough time to prepare for its defense.
A board of five ECHR judges passed a decision on December 15 to refuse to transfer the issue of awarding compensation payments to former Yukos shareholders to the ECHR’s Grand Chamber for examination. Therefore, the ECHR’s ruling in the Yukos vs Russia case of July 31, 2014 is considered to have come into force.
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.