The European Court of Human Rights fined Russia with 1.86 billion euros yesterday (31 July) which it has to pay to the shareholders of the disbanded Yukos oil group. The court said that this amount should be covered by the Russian government and both Yukos shareholders and their legal successors must be compensated. The fine is the biggest ever ordered by the court based in Strasbourg. The court’s previous record was 90 million euro that it ordered Turkey to pay to Cyprus in a trial that finished in May this year. In September 2011, the court had already found Moscow guilty for having breached human rights in the European convention by imposing excessive penalties on Yukos as well as for not providing more time to mount a legal defence. Yesterday’s ruling meant only that the amount of the fine on the three-year-old verdict was revised. The European court also ordered the sanction-battered country to pay a €300,000 lump sum in addition to the costs and expenses of the Dutch-based Yuko International Foundation.
The decision of the court comes at a very problematic stage of Europe-Russia relations. The Russian economy is expected to lose billions as a result of the most recent round of sanctions imposed by the West. Russia’s ministry commented that it considered this ruling as an example of an unfair and biased approach to the factual and legal circumstances of the case. The ministry added that it was already pondering to appeal the decision in three months. The lawyers who represent Yukos had originally called for the Russian government to pay 81 billion euros but later decreased their request to 3.9 billion euros following the 2011 decision of the court. Interestingly, the decision of the European Court of Human Rights comes at the time of a much higher fine from the international arbitration court in The Hague.