Netherlands Sticks it to Putin
Last week a court in the Netherlands ruled that the Russian government, specifically its Rosneft oil subsidiary, owes nearly $400 million to YUKOS Capital, a company owned by former managers of Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s YUKOS oil concern, because it had wrongfully seized their assets.
The ruling will allow the court, in turn, to seize Rosneft assets abroad and was the first time that YUKOS has scored a victory in a foreign court challenging the corrupt proceedings that liquidated the company and transferred all it assets to the Russian state.
Robert Amsterdam says that Russian courts will ignore the ruling, but European courts won’t. Russia can now expect an avalanche of similar rulings leading to billions of dollars in Russian governmental assets across Europe being seized and sold to satisfy the judgment.
And that’s not the worst of it, not by a long shot.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky himself has his own lawsuits pending in Europe challenging the theft of his company, and these rulings do far more than to imperil assets the Kremlin desperately needs as the Russian economy sinks into the mire of failure. The suits challenge the very legitimacy of the Russian state, and unfavorable rulings imply that the Putin regime is viewed in Europe as being essentially a gang of criminals little different than the mafia.
If the Kremlin ignores these rulings and won’t allow them to be enforced in Russia, that impression will only get more profound. Russia will lose the ability to defend its own interests in the European court system, and the basis of the Russian economy (selling oil and gas to Europe) will be severely undermined. Russia will no longer be a partner, but an enemy.