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Belgium To Unblock Russian Diplomatic Assets

Foreign Minister Didier Reynders says Belgium will unblock Russian Embassy bank accounts that had been frozen over legal claims by shareholders of the former oil company Yukos.

A ministry spokesman quoted Reynders as saying on June 20 that "a solution has been found to unblock...accounts for the running of the embassies and the rest will follow."

The ministry said Russian Embassy accounts held at ING Bank and accounts belonging to Moscow's representative offices to the EU and NATO are among the first to be unfrozen.

Moscow threatened on June 19 to retaliate against Belgian-linked foreign firms operating in Russia after its official assets were frozen.

President Vladimir Putin added that "we will defend our interests."

Representatives of ex-Yukos shareholders said on June 19 that Russian assets were also blocked in France.

The former shareholders are trying to collect some of the $50 billion awarded to them last year as compensation by The Hague's Permanent Court of Arbitration for Moscow's dismantlement of Yukos more than a decade ago.

Putin said June 19 that "Russia does not recognize the jurisdiction" of The Hague court.

Based on reporting by AFP and TASS