France seizes the assets of Russian state-run media
In connection with a lawsuit brought against Moscow by the former shareholders of the oil company Yukos, French police have frozen the assets of the Russian state news agency Rossiya Segodnya, according to the agency’s chief editor, Margarita Simonyan.
Writing on Twitter, Simonyan denied a report by Forbes that French police also seized Russia Today's office in Paris, which apparently does not exist. “Forbes has lost its mind,” Simonyan said. “Russia Today does not have nor has it ever had a building in Paris.”
According to the news website Gazeta.ru, Belgium and France have also issued court orders to seize the assets of TASS, another state-owned Russian media outlet, though it remains unclear what assets are at stake specifically. A spokesperson for TASS said the news agency is working within local laws to manage the situation.
In July 2014, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that former Yukos shareholders should receive 1.86 billion euros ($21.2 billion) in a settlement. The ruling came into effect on December 16, and Russia had six months to draw up a compensation plan. In June 2015, the Council of Europe demanded to see a schedule of compensation payments. The Ministry of Justice has stated that these demands are unfounded. In addition, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague ruled in July of 2014 that Russia must pay $50 billion in compensation to former Yukos shareholders.
On June 18, the head of the Russian bank VTB, Andrei Kostin, announced that French authorities froze the assets of one of its subsidiaries. On June 17, all Russian organizations in Belgium were notified that their assets had been arrested, with the exception of diplomatic property. These assets amount to 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion).
Russia has refused to abide by any of the court rulings on compensating former Yukos shareholders.