[JURIST] The European Court for Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] on Thursday ruled [judgement, PDF] that Russia must pay € 1.87 billion (USD $2.51 billion) to the former owners of the now defunct Russian oil company Yukos to compensate for unfair tax proceedings. The ECHR ruling comes three years after the court first found that Russia violated the company's rights [JURIST report] by forcing it into liquidation. While the penalty is the largest payout ever awarded by the ECHR [Wall Street Journal report], Yukos did not receive the entirety of their stated damages, which totaled to € 37.98 billion. The Russian Justice Ministry [official website] issued a response to the ECHR which stated that the do not view the ruling "as an example of a fair and unbiased approach to the legal and factual circumstances of the case." The ECHR in its ruling stated that Russia must draw up a plan in the next six months to determine how they will pay the damages and costs to Yukos.
The legal complications between Russia and Yukos has been an issue since 2007. In February, the Supreme Court of Russia upheld the tax claim keeping former Yukos oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky [defense website; JURIST news archive] in exile and released his business partner Platon Lebedev [JURIST news archive]. Lebedev's release came four months early, with the remainder of his sentence considered time served. Khodorkovsky was released from prison following a pardon [JURIST report] in December from Russian President Vladimir Putin [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. Despite the pardon, he remains liable [Bloomberg report] for 17.5 billion rubles ($514 million) in tax claims against his company, Yukos Oil Co.