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Belgium Starts Unblocking Russian Embassy Bank Accounts

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders says his country has started to unblock Russian Embassy bank accounts that were frozen over legal claims by shareholders of the former oil company Yukos.

Speaking in China on June 21, Reynders confirmed that Russian diplomatic accounts in Belgium at ING Bank had been unblocked.

Reynders said he hoped the situation would be "the same for all the other bank accounts in the next days and the beginning of the week."

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

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

Representatives of ex-Yukos shareholders say Russian assets have also been blocked in France.

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

"Russia does not recognize the jurisdiction" of The Hague court, Putin has said.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP

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