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Dutch court seizes local rights to ‘Stolichnaya’ and ‘Moskovskaya’ vodkas to repay Russia’s debt to former Yukos shareholders

A Dutch court has seized the local rights to two iconic vodka brands registered in the Netherlands: “Stolichnaya” and “Moskovskaya,” owned by the Russian state enterprise “Soyuzplodoimport.” 

The seizure — effective in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg — is the latest legal effort by the former shareholders of Yukos in their campaign to collect $50 billion in compensation awarded for the illegal nationalization of their oil company. The rights to these vodka brands can now be sold on the open market, with the proceeds going toward the repayment of the Yukos shareholders.

Spokespeople for Soyuzplodoimport have denounced the Dutch court’s actions and vowed to file an appeal. 

The Russian state currently owes the former shareholders of Yukos $57 billion ($50 billion plus $7 billion in interest) on the basis of a Hague arbitration court’s ruling in 2014. In February 2020, a Dutch appellate court upheld this ruling. Russia is now challenging the decision in the Netherlands’ Supreme Court, which will have the final say on the case. 

The Russian state only recently reclaimed the rights to the Stolichnaya and Moskovskaya vodkas in the territories of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. Until January 2020, they belonged to Yuri Shefler’s alcohol consortium “SPI Group.” Russia and SPI Group have been in a legal battle in other countries, as well. A court in Austria sided with the Russian state, while a court in Greece sided with SPI. In the United States, litigation is ongoing.

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