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Former Yukos Official Satisfied With Court Award

A 2003 photo of Leonid Nevzlin
A 2003 photo of Leonid Nevzlin

Former Yukos oil company Vice President Leonid Nevzlin told RFE/RL's Belarus Service he is satisfied with the $50 billion a court in the Netherlands ordered Russia to pay although he said it might take some time to actually see any of that money.

Speaking from Israel, Nevzlin noted his Group Menatep Limited (GML), the holding company for Yukos's main owners in which Nevzlin has a 70-percent stake, was seeking more than $100 billion but "it is impossible to say that we are not satisfied with the $50 billion."

The Hague arbitration court on July 28 ordered Russia to pay the $50 billion after ruling Russia forced Yukos into bankruptcy with excessive tax claims and sold the company's assets to state-owned businesses for political purposes.

Russia has already said it will appeal the decision and called the Hague court's ruling bias, claiming recent events in Ukraine, especially the downing of a Malaysian passenger plane with 193 Dutch citizens aboard, had led to an unfair decision by the court.

Yukos was formerly owned by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who served eight years in prison on tax-evasion and embezzlement charges before being pardoned last year.

In 2005, Khodorkovsky sold his interest in Yukos to GML, which is owned by former top Yukos officials, but Russian courts then seized the company and sold off its assets.

Nevzlin said for him, "the issue of prestige is no less important than the issue of financial compensation."

But he added he considers himself fortunate as many people involved in Yukos at the time were jailed.

Nevzlin also commented that he feels "very sorry for Putin" because the Russian president has put himself "into a situation where every decision is wrong.

Nevzlin said Putin's policies in Ukraine that have led Russia into confrontation with the West have left the Russian president with few options.

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