The European Court of Human Rights should not consider a $98-billion claim from the now defunct oil giant Yukos against Russia because it was improperly filed, a Russian government official said Thursday.
The Strasbourg-based court has begun hearing a complaint against Russia by former Yukos managers who contend that the Russian government illegally forced the oil firm out of business and bankrupted it. State-controlled oil company Rosneft snapped up the bulk of its production assets, becoming Russia's largest oil producer.
Deputy Justice Minister Georgy Matyushkin, Russia's official representative at the court, said the plaintiffs' lawyer was "not duly authorized" to represent Yukos while "a similar case is already being examined by the International Court [of Justice] in The Hague."
The executives argue that the action against the company was politically motivated and violated several counts of European human rights law, including the right to a fair hearing and protection of property.
The executives, represented by Piers Gardner, a London-based barrister, filed a claim in April 2004 on behalf of all stakeholders, including creditors and shareholders, and were granted a hearing.
As a signatory to the European convention, Russia is bound by any decision by the European Court of Human Rights.
Yukos founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky, sentenced to eight years in prison for fraud and tax evasion, has consistently denied all charges against him, saying he was punished for supporting the tiny pro-Western opposition, and that the liquidation of Yukos was engineered by corrupt government officials aiming to seize lucrative oil assets.
STRASBOURG, March 4 (RIA Novosti)