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Press Release: Italy Stumbles over Yukos

Russia: Italy stumbles over Yukos White Paper published today in Italy on the abuses perpetrated by the Russian government. London, 13th March 2007 – the sale of the Yukos assets is likely to become one of the most controversial cases in international law. When the sale of the assets, estimated at a value between $20 and 30 million, is finalised, the purchaser will have to reckon with one of the greatest thefts in modern history by a sovereign state: the theft of Yukos from Mikhail Khodorkovsky and its shareholders. In Europe only Italy, through ENI and ENEL, seems determined to enter the bidding for the purchase of the Yukos assets -in particular those lots which include Articgaz and Urengoil with estimated value of 2.5 bn $-, in consortium with ESN and with Gazprom’s agreement. This is a short sighted decision, which in the long term is likely to bring with it more problems than benefits. The reputational damage with the international community and the legal risks of the deal are potentially enormous. It is no coincidence that no other European oil or energy major has so far expressed publicly any interest in what in normal circumstances would be a huge transaction. The auction has no claim to legitimacy as the underlying seizure of Yukos was not even in compliance with basic russian legal norms. In addition the new auction is further tainted by the nomination of Eduard Regbun (Yukos’ liquidator) to the board of Rosneft, the state oil company that will participate in the auction of the Yukos assets. The firm Amsterdam & Peroff, which is defending Mikhail Khodorkovsky, considers the next auction of Yukos assets a fraud, as the past auction. All this while the latest accusations filed against Mikhail Khodorkovsky – still imprisoned in Siberia with complete disregard for legality – are increasing the concerns among the international community for the way in which the Russian government has used the law and the justice system. According to the Council of Europe, the Kremlin has on several occasions violated the Russian constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights in its treatment of Khodorkosky for political ends and for the purpose of gaining control of a strategic industry (see Council Resolution No 1418 of 2005, adopted by the European Parliament). The Italian public should be aware that Eni and Enel, the 2 largest businesses in the country, are running the risk of becoming involved in the consequences of a criminal act, which sooner or later will come to light. To coincide with the visit of President Putin, Amsterdam & Peroff is today publishing the Italian version of the White Paper on the Khodorkovsky case. Downloadable online from www.robertamsterdam.com.