[JURIST] A Russian arbitration court judge declared oil company Yukos [corporate website; JURIST news archive; corporate website; Wikipedia backgrounder] bankrupt Tuesday and said the company may be liquidated to pay creditors. The decision, which had been expected, confirms a vote taken by Yukos' creditors last week. A Yukos lawyer described Tuesday's decision as a "death sentence" for the company, once the primary producer of oil in Russia [JURIST news archive]. Yukos' bankruptcy supervisor, Eduard Rebgun, will be paid 1.8 million rubles ($67,000 US) a month to liquidate the company.
To pay off Yukos' back taxes, the company's largest production unit was sold [JURIST report] in 2004 to a state-controlled oil group. That conglomerate, OAO Rosneft [corporate profile, English version], now ranks as one of Yukos' largest creditors, along with the Federal Tax Service. Yukos' downfall began after its founder, Mikhail Khodorkovsky [JURIST news archive], was convicted of tax evasion [JURIST report] in May 2005 - a prosecution that critics contend was politically motivated, despite denials by Russian President Vladimir Putin [official website; BBC profile]. AP has more. MosNews has local coverage.