On March 11, an English court ruled to seize assets in England and Wales of Russia’s state oil company, Rosneft, under a lawsuit filed by managers of the now defunct oil giant Yukos. Rosneft is currently in possession of assets once belonging to what was Russia’s largest oil producer, Yukos, which was liquidated after it was found liable by the Russian judiciary for tax evasion. Yukos’ assets were allegedly sold at auction in order for Yukos to pay off its debts.

Many people have quipped that in practice, there is no such thing as “international law” — it is merely a subject to study and that states are free to apply or ignore it as they wish. They may soon be proven wrong. This is because some of the Yukos ex-managers have sued the Russian government for approximately $100 million in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, asserting that they have been victimized by a politically motivated, illegal expropriation of Yukos’ property as part of a plan by then-Russian President Vladimir Putin to directly or indirectly take control of the country’s natural resources. The oral hearing of their complaint took place on March 4. Furthermore, there is a personal element to the case as then Yukos Chief Executive Officer Mikhail Khodorkovsky was convicted of a variety of crimes and placed in jail after what is widely viewed as a show trial. He is presently undergoing a further trial.

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