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Putin signs law that will allow Russia to seize foreign states' assets in retaliation

Vladimir Putin has signed a new law weakening the jurisdictional immunity of foreign governments in Russia. The legislation's authors say it will increase the protection of Russian property interests abroad. 

According to the law, Russian courts will now be able to impose limitations on the immunity of property in Russia belonging to foreign states, in the event that those states restrict the immunity of the Russian state's property on their territory. Lawmakers say this would make it possible to seize foreign states' property, if they imposed sanctions on Russian property.

Before the adoption of this law, foreign states' property in Russia enjoyed total immunity.

The Duma passed this legislation on October 23. On October 28, it passed in the Federation Assembly, as well, going to Vladimir Putin's desk.

In July 2014, the European Court of Human Rights awarded former Yukos shareholders 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. Russia's Ministry of Justice says 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.

In connection with the lawsuit, Belgium, France, and Austria have frozen assets belonging to the Russian state.

Russian authorities have stated the claims made by European courts are unfounded, saying Moscow will not pay.