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Russia ordered to pay $50bn to former oil magnates

Mikhail Khodorkovsky speaking in Donetsk, Ukraine, in April. Credit: Reuters

Russia must pay shareholders in defunct oil giant Yukos around $50 billion (£29 billion) for seizing the company once controlled by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an international arbitration court has ruled.

The court in Hague said it had awarded the shareholders group just under half of their $114 billion (£67 billion) claim as damages for money they lost.

Mr Khodorkovsky, who is not part of the current arbitration case, was arrested at gunpoint in 2003 and convicted of theft and tax evasion in 2005.

His company, once worth $40 billion (£24 billion), was broken up and nationalised, with most assets handed to Rosneft, a company run by Igor Sechin, an ally of President Vladimir Putin.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow would most likely appeal the decision.

Khodorkovsky: 'Russian propaganda lies, as always'

One of Vladimir Putin's biggest critics, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, accused Russia of being complicit in police violence against Ukrainian protesters on Kiev's Independence Square.

Volunteers greet Mikhail Khodorkovsky on Kiev's Independence Square Credit: REUTERS/Alex Kuzmin

The former Russian oil tycoon, addressing a crowd on the square where demonstrators rose up against Ukraine's Moscow-backed president, dismissed suggestions by Moscow that the protesters are "neo-fascists" bent on violence.

"Russian propaganda lies, as always. There are no fascists or Nazis here," Mr Khodorkovsky said.


Russian tycoon Khodorkovsky calls for prisoner release

Freed Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky has called for the release of more political prisoners and said he hopes President Vladimir Putin will not be in power too long.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky was sentenced to serve 10 years in jail Credit: REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

Khodorkovsky had eight months left to serve of a 10-year sentence when he was pardoned by Putin, and he urged Ukraine's president, Viktor Yanukovich, to follow Putin's example by freeing the country's opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko.

Khodorkovsky added: "You should not see me as a symbol that there are no more political prisoners in Russia. I'm asking you to see me as a symbol of the efforts of the civil society that could lead even to the release of those people whom nobody ever expected to see released."

Oil tycoon 'will not enter politics or seek Yukos assets'

Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Credit: DPA/Press Association Images

Former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, freed by a pardon from Russian President Vladimir Putin after 10 years in jail, said he would not go into politics or seek to regain assets of his former oil company, Yukos.

In an interview with Russian magazine The New Times, Khodorkovsky said there were no conditions attached to the pardon but said he had told Putin in a letter: "I do not intend to get involved in politics and do not intend to fight for the return of (Yukos) assets."

Russian oil tycoon arrives in Germany after pardon

Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was freed by a presidential pardon after spending 10 years in jail, has arrived in Berlin where he reunited with his family.

The 50-year-old, who was once Russia's richest man, was pictured greeting well-wishers and former German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher on the tarmac after landing on a private jet.

His son Pavel Khodorkovsky tweeted a picture of him in Germany:

President Vladimir Putin announced the pardon yesterday and said he was acting out of "principles of humanity" because Khodorkovsky's mother was ill. His release gave a brief lift to the stock market.

A Russian government source told Reuters that freeing the country's best-known and potentially most powerful critic could deflect international complaints about Putin's human rights record before the Winter Olympics in Sochi in seven week's time.


Pardoned oil tycoon Khodorkovsky 'on way to Germany'

Former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky left Russia for Germany after he was released from prison following a presidential pardon, Reuters reported, citing the Russian federal prison service.

File photograph of former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who received a presidential pardon. Credit: REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

The prison service said Khodorkovsky had requested documents allowing him to leave the country and boarded a flight for Germany.

The German foreign office told the news agency it could not immediately comment on the claims.

Profile: Mikhail Khodorkovsky

Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Credit: Reuters

Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been in jail since he was arrested in 2003 in what supporters say was part of a Kremlin campaign to punish him for political challenges to Putin, and an attempt to gain control of his oil assets and warn other tycoons to toe the line.

Once Russia's richest man as head of oil giant Yukos, he was convicted of grave financial crimes in two trials and his imprisonment has long been held up by foreign investors as evidence of the weakness of property rights and the rule of law in Russia.

Yukos was broken up and sold off after Khodorkovsky's arrest and its prize production asset ending up in the hands of state oil company Rosneft, now headed by Putin ally Igor Sechin.

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