Russia knowingly plunged the oil giant Yukos into bankruptcy in 2006, according to a Dutch appeals court. Its verdict could benefit former shareholders of a Dutch subsidiary, Yukos Finance BV.
Amsterdam's Appeals Court found on Tuesday that Russia imposed far too much tax on Yukos, once owned by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an exiled critic of President Vladimir Putin.
A curator appointed to sell off shares did not have the right to do so, the court concluded as part of a long-running battle over the subsidiary's assets.
The Dutch decision was welcomed by a shareholders group led by former Yukos chief executive Steve Theede.
The Dutch ruling "exposed the extent to which the Russian Federation will go to manipulate the legal process and ignore the rule of law," said Theede.
Open Russia targeted
Khodorkovsky's Open Russia movement has been targeted by the authorities recently with police raiding its Moscow offices last week.
Police seized equipment and about 100,000 flyers printed for recent protests.
Putin has not tipped his hand on whether he will seek a fourth term as president in the election scheduled for March 2018.
ipj/kms (AP, dpa)