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Russia says new attempts possible to seize state property abroad under Yukos claim

An official believes Yukos lawyers are currently resorting to "the classical tactic of dragging out the process"

HAGUE, January 16. /TASS/. Russia does not rule out that new attempts may be made to seize Russia’s property abroad under a claim by former Yukos shareholders, Head of the Russian government’s International Center for Legal Protection Andrei Kondakov told TASS on Monday.

Yukos lawyers are currently resorting to "the classical tactic of dragging out the process" as they are not submitting a substantive appeal and are trying to split the case into two parts, Kondakov said.

The Russian government’s lawyer said it was quite possible in this situation that "attempts may be made to seize Russian property somewhere in France and Belgium where the enforcement procedures have not been stopped."

"In two countries [Germany and India], the enforcement procedures have been withdrawn by the opponents themselves while in the United States and in Great Britain these processes have been halted by a court ruling," he said.

"That is why, Belgium and France are the sole places where trouble can be caused to Russia," he said.

The Court of Appeals in The Hague held hearings earlier on Monday on the procedural formalities of the Yukos case. During the hearings, the court gave Yukos lawyers acting as the plaintiffs under the case the time until late January to submit a substantive appeal.

The court also promised to take a decision within 1-2 weeks on the need to bifurcate the process [to split the case into two parts] and separately consider the issue of ‘"dishonest hands."

"We’re acting against this as this tactic of stretching out the process is expensive and does not fall under the notion of efficient and rational judicial proceedings but this is what our opponents insist on," Kondakov said.

In July 2014, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague passed a ruling obliging Russia to pay $50 billion compensation to former Yukos shareholders who claimed $100 billion from Moscow.

In its final awards, the arbitration tribunal ruled that Russia "had taken measures with the effect equivalent to an expropriation of claimants’ investments in Yukos and thus had breached the Energy Charter Treaty."

Russia, which signed but did not ratify the Energy Charter Treaty, had repeatedly said it categorically disagreed with the Hague tribunal’s ruling.

The district court of The Hague ruled on April 20, 2016 that the panel of judges who had passed the $50 billion compensation judgment in favor of former Yukos shareholders had no right to review the dispute. As the Dutch district court ruled, the arbitration tribunal misinterpreted Europe’s Energy Charter Treaty, which Russia signed but never ratified.

Former Yukos shareholders are now trying to challenge this ruling in the Court of Appeals in The Hague.