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The European Court of Human Rights in The Hague has told Russia to pay Yukos shareholders $2.5 billion or 1.9 billion euros. The company originally asked for 38 billion euros for the unfair, and some believe politically motivated, manner in which the Russian government punished the company between 2004 and 2005.
Yukos, which was under the direction of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, then one of the wealthiest men in Russia whose associates were opponents of Putin, was effectively bankrupt because of draconian measures taken against the company by the government. The company’s downfall and Khodorkovsky’s arrest on accusations of bribe taking, for which he spent 10 years in prison, were believed to have been tactics of political revenge against Khodorkovsky and to prevent opposition to Putin.
The reason the Hague has given Yukos a much smaller settlement than the one it requested is that it is dealing only with the matter of the overly-harsh penalties the Russian government took against the company and its shareholders, and not with issues of political machinations or Khodorkovsky’s alleged false imprisonment.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky is a businessman, public figure and philanthropist. In the era of glastnost, Khodorkovsky was a pioneer in the privatization of oil fields, and Yukos emerged as one of the largest, newly privatized companies in Russia. Khodorkovsky grew up in Moscow, and both of his parents, were engineers. His father was Jewish and his mother was Russian Orthodox.