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The Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights has ruled
The Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights has ruled that a claim against the Russian government filed by the liquidated oil firm Yukos is partially acceptable, a business paper reported on Wednesday.

Once Russia's largest oil producer, Yukos collapsed after charges of tax evasion led to the company being broken up and sold off to meet debts. The bulk of the company's assets were bought up by state-run oil company Rosneft.

The court ruling has proved to be very tough for Russia as the Strasbourg court accepted that key points of the Yukos complaint were admissible, Kommersant said.

According to the paper, the Strasbourg court rejected claims by the Russian side that Yukos had already been liquidated and therefore the case could not be heard and that company lawyer, Piers Gardner, had no right to represent Yukos. At the same time, the court accepted that tax claims against Yukos were filed to destroy the company and sell off its assets.

Yukos was declared bankrupt August 1, 2006, after three years of litigation with tax authorities over the company's tax arrears. The sum of creditors' claims to the company amounted to 430 billion rubles (about $12 billion at the current exchange rate).

Yukos founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky, along with business partner, Platon Lebedev, are currently serving an eight-year prison term for tax evasion and fraud in East Siberia.

Yukos applied to the Strasbourg court in 2004 with a complaint against the Russian tax authorities whose actions the company qualified as the illegal seizure of property. The complaint was filed by Gardner, the company's London-based lawyer.

The Strasbourg court largely agreed with Yukos's arguments, recognizing its complaint as acceptable in relation to the enforcement of tax claims, including the sale of Yuganskneftegaz, the Yukos main production unit, for debt prepayment and also in relation to doubled tax penalties, the paper said.

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