Russia ordered to pay $2.5bn to Yukos shareholders

Mikhail Khodorkovsky Former Yukos boss Mikhail Khodorkovsky spent 10 years in jail

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Russia has been ordered to pay about $2.5bn (£1.5bn; 1.9bn euros) to former shareholders in defunct oil group Yukos by the European Court of Human Rights.

Russia's Justice Ministry said the ruling was "unfair" and it had three months to appeal against the decision.

Earlier this week, a court in The Hague told Russia to pay $50bn to former Yukos shareholders.

It said Russian officials had manipulated the legal system to bankrupt the company and jail its boss.

Russia has already said it will appeal against the Hague court's ruling.

The latest ruling from the European Court of Human Rights stated: "The respondent state is to pay the applicant company's shareholders as they stood at the time of the company's liquidation and, as the case may be, their legal successors and heirs 1,866,104,634 euros, plus any tax that may be chargeable."

The court also ruled that Russia should pay 300,000 euros in costs and expenses.

It went on to say that Russia had six months to come with a "comprehensive plan" to pay the shareholders.

'Worth the effort'

Shareholders had been seeking almost 38bn euros in compensation.

"All Yukos shareholders will benefit from this decision," said Steven Theede, the company's former chief executive.

"The pursuit of this case, originally filed in April 2004, was to ensure that Yukos shareholders obtained recompense for the wrongful acts of the Russian Federation.

"It has been worth the effort."

The compensation to shareholders represents the biggest yet awarded by the court.

"The awarded amount is already totally unprecedented in the human rights field," said Jan Kleinheisterkamp, associate professor of law at the London School of Economics.

"The 1.9bn euros is humongous in terms of compensation granted by the European Court of Human Rights."

Yukos was disbanded in 2007 after filing for bankruptcy in 2006. It was controlled by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once Russia's richest man, who spent ten years in jail after being convicted of fraud and tax evasion.

He was pardoned in December last year.

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