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Moscow Court Says Yukos Must Pay Back Taxes

29 June 2004 -- A Russian court today upheld a Tax Ministry claim that oil giant Yukos must pay $3.4 billion dollars in back taxes -- a move the firm says may put it out of business.

Yukos, Russia's second-largest oil firm, has three months to pay the bill or it may face bankruptcy proceedings.

A Yukos lawyer, Sergei Pepelyayev, said the court will have the right to start seizing company assets as soon as the court ruling is published. But he added the firm has also two months to lodge a final appeal against the ruling by the Moscow Arbitration Court.

Critics say the case against Yukos is due to former top executive Mikhail Khodorovskii's support of political opposition parties. Khodorovskii was jailed in October 2003 and accused of tax evasion and fraud.