Thursday, July 31, 2014

Strasbourg Court Orders Russia to Pay 2 Billion Euro to Yukos Shareholders

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) awarded shareholders in Yukos 1.9 billion euros ($2.6 billion) in compensation after the former oil company argued Russia had unlawfully seized it after imposing bogus taxes and via a sham auction. Just days after some of Yukos's former shareholders won $50 billion in The Hague, the Strasbourg-based court said Russia should also pay 300,000 euros in costs and expenses, plus any tax. An interim ruling by the ECHR in 2011 found that Russia had not misused legal proceedings to destroy Yukos but ruled that enforcement proceedings used against Yukos had been disproportionate.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Russian IP Court to Consider Ruling Denying Trademark Protection to Ford Motor Company

On September 30, Russia's new IP Court will review Rospatent's refusal to grant trademark protection for the well-known Ford Motor Company mark, a blue oval with the scripted name Ford inside. Among other reasons that Rospatent gave for refusing to recognize the mark was Ford's failure to establish that the mark had been consistently used in exactly the same form as represented in the application, noting evidence showed that Ford used different verbal labeling at different times, in different vehicles.  Ford, whose headquarters are in Dearborn, Michigan, remains one of the 20 largest corporations in the US.

Moscow City Court Blocks Pirated Copies of Game of Thrones

Under an anti-piracy law that took effect in Russia on August 1, 2013, the Moscow City Court has blocked 15 sites that distribute the pirated versions of the popular western series including Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire and American Horror Story. The ruling was made in favor of A. Serial, the company that holds the exclusive distribution rights to Game of Thrones, and found that the series was distributed on various websites (including,,,,,,,,,,,,,, and without A. Serial's permission.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Pussy Riot Wants a €250K Payout From Russia

Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina are seeking damages in the amount of 250,000 euros ($336,000) in their case against Russia before the European Court of Human Rights, Vedomosti reported Monday. The women are seeking 120,000 euros in moral damages each, and an additional 10,000 euros between the two to cover legal fees, according to the report. Tolokonnikova and Alyohkina were hit with two-year prison terms in August 2012 for their "punk prayer" performance in Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral earlier that year. They were sentenced alongside a third member of the group, Yekaterina Samutsevich, who was released last October after a court transferred her prison term to a suspended sentence. Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova were granted amnesty and released in December.

Hague Court Orders Russia to Pay $50 Billion in Yukos Case

The Hague's arbitration court ruled on Monday that Russia must pay a group of shareholders in oil giant Yukos $50.02 billion for expropriating its assets, a big hit for a country teetering on the brink of recession. The arbitration panel in the Netherlands said it had awarded shareholders in the GML group just under half of their $114 billion claim, going some way to covering the money they lost when the Kremlin seized Yukos, once controlled by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a decade ago. "The award is a slam dunk. It is for $50 billion, and that cannot be disputed," said Tim Osborne, director of GML. "It's now a question of enforcing it." Russia's Finance Ministry called the ruling "flawed", "one-sided" and "politically biased" and said it would appeal the decision. It comes as Russia and the West are in their biggest stand-off since the Cold War over Moscow's actions in Ukraine.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

FAS Proposes That Monopolists Pay Damages To Consumers

At a recent expert discussion on of implementation of the FAS Action Plan for “Developing Competition Improving the Antimonopoly Policy” Head of the Legal Department of the FAS, Sergey Puzyrevskiy, proposed that if a monopolist caused damage, it should be liable to consumers. Representatives of the Ministry of Justice, “Skolkovo” Fund, Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, “Business Russia”, members of Non-Profit Partnership for Developing Competition and Corporate Counsels Association, practicing lawyers, etc., took part in discussion.  According to Puzyrevskiy, “[FAS] are proposing an alternative method to compensate damages to consumers injured by violations of the antimonopoly law that can be in the form of compensation from 1 - 15 % of the value of the purchased goods.” Concluding the meeting, Puzyrevskiy emphasized the importance of discussing the draft Law at the Analytical Centre at the Government of the Russian Federation and asked participants to formulate their proposals and forward them to FAS Russia.

Russian IP Court Upholds Alibaba Trademark Against Cybersquatter

The Russian IP court ruled against cybersquatter Holmrook Limited, a company with Russian ties, incorporated in the British Virgin Islands.  Chinese internet giant, Alibaba Group, challenged Holmrook's use of the Alibaba trademark in Holmrook's domain registration for  The court's decision comes on the heels of a May decision stopping any legal protection for Holmrook's use of the "alibaba" trademark in connection with printed publications and bank cards.  Holmrook has previously lost several disputes related to the use of foreign trademarks in domain names, including those involving Swiss watch makers Longines and Tissot.  Alibaba Group remains on track to become the second largest internet company in the world, after Google, with the announcement of an initial public offering on the United States stock exchange expected to reach approximately $200 in market capitalization.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Ousted Kyrgyz President Bakiev Sentenced To Life

Former Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev has been sentenced to life in prison in absentia for involvement in the 2010 killing of protesters during the uprising that ousted him. The Bishkek Military Court also sentenced Bakiev's brother, Janysh Bakiev, who was the head of the presidential guard, and former Prime Minister Daniyar Usenov to life in prison in absentia on July 25. Another 25 defendants in the case, including several of Bakiev's relatives and associates, were sentenced to prison terms ranging between six and 25 years. The defendants were found guilty of either having fired upon or given the command to open fire on protesters in Bishkek during antigovernment protests in April 2010 that led to Bakiev's ouster. Nearly 100 people were killed and some 400 wounded in the clashes in central Bishkek. The trial started in 2011. Bakiev is living in Belarus with several family members.

Russia Jails Two Opposition Activists

A Russian court on Thursday jailed a radical opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov to four and a half years for organising "mass riots" ahead of Vladimir Putin's inauguration as president in 2012. Judge Alexander Zamashnyuk sentenced both Udaltsov and his political ally Leonid Razvozzhayev to four and a half years in a corrective labour camp for organising a rally against Putin and plotting further unrest. The judge said the men had organised "mass riots accompanied by violence against the authorities and damage to property." Udaltsov, the shaven leader of a banned radical leftist group, rose to prominence as part of the protest movement against Putin's return to the Kremlin for a third term. He responded to the verdict by declaring a hunger strike, his lawyer said after the verdict.

Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk Resigns

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk announced his resignation Thursday, opening the way for new elections that would reflect the country's starkly changed political scene after the ouster of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in February. Yatsenyuk, a supporter of closer ties with Europe and a key participant in the protests that toppled Yanukovych, made the announcement from the dais of Parliament after two parties said they would pull out of the governing coalition. He said Parliament could no longer do its work and pass necessary laws. President Petro Poroshenko, elected to replace Yanukovych May 25, earlier praised the withdrawal of the two parties. He said that "all opinion polls, and direct conversations with people, show that society wants a complete rebooting of the government." Poroshenko's calls for political renewal suggests the resignation and new elections are the result of planning and political maneuvering, not chaos.

Criminal liability for discriminating the disabled

On June 18, 2014 the Parliament of Ukraine passed the Bill of Ukraine "On amendments to some legislative acts on protecting the rights of disabled persons" (Bill No.3640) into law (hereinafter the Law).

The Law amends Article 161 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, which provides for criminal liability in case of discrimination (direct or indirect restriction of rights or establishing direct or indirect privileges for individuals) on the basis of disability. 

New grounds for applying measures under criminal law against legal entities

On June 4, 2014 the Law of Ukraine "On amendments to some legislative acts of Ukraine in the field of state anticorruption policy due to the implementation of the EU Visa Regime Liberalization Action Plan for Ukraine" No.1261-VII (hereinafter the Law) came into effect. 

The Law expands the grounds for applying measures under criminal law to legal entities. Thus, according to the previous wording of Article 96-3 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine grounds for the application of such measures could be a number of offenses committed "on behalf of a legal entity", if such offenses were "aimed at obtaining" "undue advantage or create the conditions for obtaining such advantage" for that legal entity, which indicated the need to establish a direct intent to achieve a criminal result.  The new wording of this provision establishes that the mentioned offenses shall also be deemed committed in favour of a legal entity, if they "resulted in obtaining undue advantage" by a legal entity or created conditions for obtaining such advantage", i.e. regardless of the focused intent of that legal entity’s authorized person.
Also, the adopted Law sets forth an additional ground for applying measures under criminal law to legal entities. Now such measures can be applied not only for authorized person s’ offenses committed on behalf of and in the interests of a legal entity, but also for "failing to ensure the performance of duties to prevent corruption imposed on the authorized person by law or constituent documents of a legal entity", if it led to any offense provided for in Articles 209, 306 or to offenses provided for by separate parts of Articles 368-3, 368-4, 369 and 369-2 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine and related to the undue advantage obtained. 

It should be noted that the adopted Law fails to disclose the content of "duties to prevent corruption." At the same time, the new Article 14-1 added to the existing Law of Ukraine "On Principles of Prevention and Combating Corruption " obliges legal entities to ensure the "development and application of measures to prevent corruption, which are necessary and reasonable for preventing corruption in the activities of a legal entity and for encouraging employees to act in accordance with the laws and regulations and under rules and procedures established by the company to identify and prevent corruption in its activities."

Also, the Law has changed the amount of fine as a measure under criminal law, which may be applied to a legal entity: earlier, the court could impose a fine in the amount of UAH 85 thousand to 1,275 thousand, now the mentioned amount may only be applied, if undue advantage was not obtained or if its amount may not be estimated. In all other cases a fine in the double amount of obtained undue advantage shall be applied.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

eBay Still Sees Russia as Top Priority

Despite recent legislation aimed at e-sales, and the possibility of further sanctions against Russia, online marketplace eBay still sees Russia as its top priority in emerging markets. "We said three years ago that the Russian marketplace is eBay's top priority in emerging markets. It was true then and it is true now," eBay deputy head Wendy Jones told a news conference dedicated to the signing of a memorandum with Russian Post, Reuters reported.  Earlier this year, Putin signed a law obliging international payment systems such as Visa and MasterCard to pay a massive security deposit in order to continue operations in Russia. Another bill signed into law yesterday will allow them to evade paying the deposit if they find a Russian partner to take over their operations by Oct. 31. Jones's words and the memorandum signed Wednesday show that eBay is in no hurry to exit the burgeoning Russian e-commerce market, which is growing at an average yearly rate of 30 percent. eBay began to service the Russian market in 2010 and launched its Russian headquarters in summer 2012. By the end of December 2013, the company was receiving about 90,000 orders a day from Russian customers, Interfax reported.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

2013 Annual Report on Russian Competition Law Released

The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS) recently released its 2013 Annual Report, highlighting changes in competition law, enforcement and the role of the FAS in working with business and other government agencies.  The report highlights changes to Russia's competition laws, which included legislation aimed at, among other things, eliminating post-merger notification, management of administrative fines, the role of the Bank of Russia in overseeing financial markets, and updating customs laws.  Proposed legislation addresses such issues as transactions involving natural monopolies, vertical arrangements, the establishment of an FAS Presidium, and elimination of barriers for foreign investment.  Under the enforcement section, the report indicates that FAS initiated 10,028 cases in which 9,597 antimonopoly violations were exposed (a slight increase over the prior year).  In addition, FAS levied fines of approximately $261M, down from approximately $370 in fines imposed the prior year.

Google Fined For Violating Russian Advertising Laws

Russia's Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS) has fined search engine Google 200,000 rubles ($6,000) for violating Russian advertising laws.  Last month, FAS accused Google of advertising several types of medication without providing the legally necessary health warnings and instructions on how they should be taken.  FAS ordered Google to stop advertising the pharmaceuticals in question — flu prevention or relief formulas Kagotsel, Immunal, Immunal Plus C and Genferon Light Spray — while the case was being put together.  While last year FAS levied fines for advertising infringements totaling 153 million rubles ($4.4 million), it is unclear whether relatively low individual fines (such as the $6,000 fine just levied against Google) will have a deterrent effect going forward.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

U.N. Security Council Unanimously Approves Probe of Crash in Ukraine

The United Nations Security Council, increasing pressure on Russia over the downing of a jetliner of Ukraine, adopted a resolution Monday calling for investigators to have unfettered access to the crash site and demanding a cease-fire in the area. Russia, which has been accused by other nations of involvement in Thursday’s shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, joined other Security Council members in the 15-0 vote. As a permanent member of the Security Council, it had the power to veto the resolution. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, said a resolution would not have been necessary if Moscow had used its influence over pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine to permit access to the scene, where bodies and debris were strewn for miles. Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s U.N. ambassador, said his nation “stands ready to provide any assistance necessary.” But Churkin quickly resumed attacks on Ukraine, accusing it of drawing on the “shock” of the jet’s downing to step up its own attacks along the border against the separatists, who are seeking independence and possible union with Russia. (video)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

U.N. Security Council Mulls Resolution on Ukraine Crash Site Access

The U.N. Security Council is considering a draft resolution to condemn the "shooting down" of a Malaysian passenger plane in Ukraine, demand armed groups allow access to the crash site, and call on states in the region to cooperate with an international investigation. Australia - which lost 28 citizens - circulated a draft text, seen by Reuters, to the 15-member Security Council late on Saturday and diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it could be put to a vote as early as Monday. The draft resolution "demands that those responsible for this incident be held to account and that all states cooperate fully with efforts to establish accountability." It "condemns in the strongest terms the shooting down [of] Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 ... resulting in the tragic loss of 298 lives" and "demands that all states and other actors in the region refrain from acts of violence directed against civilian aircraft." The United States and other powers have said the plane was likely brought down on Thursday by a surface-to-air missile fired from rebel territory. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said on Friday that Washington could not rule out Russian help in firing the missile. Moscow denies involvement and has pointed a finger at Kiev's military.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Malaysian Flight Shot Down Over Ukraine

A Ukrainian official said a passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down Thursday over a town in the east of the country, and Malaysian Airlines tweeted that it lost contact with one of its flights over Ukrainian airspace. Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine's interior minister, said on his Facebook page that the plane was flying at an altitude of 33,000 feet. He also said it was hit by a missile fired from a Buk launcher, which can fire missiles up to an altitude of 72,000 feet. As plumes of black smoke rose up near a rebel-held village of Grabovo in eastern Ukraine, an Associated Press journalist counted at least 22 bodies at the crash site. The plane appeared to have broken up before impact and the burning wreckage - including body parts and the belongings of passengers - was scattered over a wide area. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called the downing an act of terrorism and called for an international investigation into the crash. The government of Ukraine said in a statement Thursday afternoon that it has evidence that the Russian military was involved in the crash. "The plane was shot down, because the Russian air defense systems was affording protection to Russian mercenaries and terrorists in this area," the statement said. Ukraine pro-Russia rebels said they didn't shoot down the airliner and blamed Ukrainian armed forces.

Russia Calls US Sanctions ‘Blackmail’

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the latest round of U.S. sanctions on Russia will stall bilateral relations and hurt U.S. businesses as well as Russian ones. Putin made his televised comments during a visit to Brazil, just hours after President Barack Obama announced new sanctions on Russian banks and energy companies based on Moscow's support of the pro-Russian separatist rebellion in Ukraine.
"[Sanctions] have a boomerang effect and without any doubt they will push U.S.-Russian relations into a dead end, and cause very serious damage, and I am sure that this also damages national long-term strategic interests of the U.S. government and the U.S. people,” said Putin. Separately, Russia's foreign ministry said Thursday that Russia will not tolerate "blackmail" from the United States and reserves the right to take retaliatory measures. It accused the European Union of submitting to pressure from the U.S. to impose sanctions as well. Obama, speaking Wednesday at the White House, said he has repeatedly urged Moscow to take key steps to ease the crisis, and that Russia so far has failed to meet any of the U.S. recommendations.

Russian Stock Market Hit by Sanctions

The United States imposed its toughest sanctions yet on Moscow on Wednesday, and Russian stocks and the rouble tumbled on Thursday. The rouble-traded MICEX stock market dropped 2.5 percent in early deals, its dollar-traded cousin, the RTS index , fell 3.2 percent, and the rouble dropped as much as 1 percent against the dollar. "From the West's perspective they could not have chosen a better time to intensify sanctions," said Societe Generale strategist Regis Chatellier. "Until a few weeks back, Russia was in a position of relative strength because there was massive pressure on oil but that is not the case any more." The new U.S. sanctions effectively shut off medium and longer-term dollar funding for companies close to Vladimir Putin. The EU also expanded its punishments for certain firms and said it would ask two of its development banks to halt their lending in Russia.

US, EU Boost Sanctions on Russia

The US and EU have bolstered sanctions against Russia over its alleged support for separatists fighting in Ukraine. The US has targeted major banks including Gazprombank, defense firms, and energy companies including Rosneft. Russian President Vladimir Putin was quoted as saying sanctions would take US-Russia relations to a "dead end". The EU said it would announce details of its sanctions by the end of July, but added that its investment banks would no longer fund Russian projects.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

At Least 20 Killed in Moscow Metro Сrash

At least 20 people were killed and more than 150 injured when a Moscow Metro train derailed during rush hour. Several carriages left the track on the Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya line, also known as Line Three, on Tuesday morning, and the rescue operation has so far lasted more than seven hours. Emergency officials said 50 of more than 150 passengers injured are in a serious condition in hospital. The accident on Tuesday was the worst loss of life in the Moscow Metro since twin suicide bombings in 2010, carried out by female terrorists from the region of Dagestan, that killed 39 people during morning rush hour.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Ukraine: Plane Downed by Missile Probably Fired From Russia

Ukraine said a powerful rocket probably fired from Russian territory downed a Ukrainian military cargo plane close to the border in a region where fighting with pro-Russia rebels has intensified. The allegation came a day after Moscow accused Ukrainian forces of hitting a Russian house on its side of the border with artillery fire, killing a Russian civilian. Russia's Foreign Ministry warned of "irreversible consequences" for the Ukrainian government in Kiev, which has denied involvement. The exchange of accusations illustrates heightened tension between Moscow and Kiev as the conflict in Ukraine's east grows increasingly bloody. After a lull, fighting has intensified in recent days between separatists and Ukrainian forces, who have been facing off since the spring. Representatives from Russia, Ukraine and Europe are trying to arrange a new round of cease-fire talks with the separatist leaders, as the Europeans weigh further sanctions against Russia.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Russia Accuses US of 'Kidnapping' MP's Son

The Kremlin is accusing the U.S. of "kidnapping" alleged Russian hacker Roman Valerevich Seleznev after the Secret Service arrested the 30-year-old for allegedly installing malicious software to steal credit numbers, the International Business Times reported. Russia is calling the U.S. arrest of Seleznev "yet another unfriendly gesture" by the United States. Prosecutors say Seleznev, who's scheduled for a July 22 hearing, programmed malicious software to steal credit numbers, using computer servers all over the world. He is charged with bank fraud, obtaining information from a protected computer, possessing stolen credit cards and identity theft. According to Russian media, Seleznev is the son of Russian MP Valery Seleznev. The Russian Parliament member reportedly told the Itar-Tass news agency that he was unable to speak with his son, but called the allegations a "monstrous lie and a provocative act." "We consider this as the latest unfriendly move from Washington. This is not the first time the US side, ignoring a bilateral treaty ... on mutual assistance in criminal matters, has gone ahead with what amounts to the kidnapping of a Russian citizen," the Russian Foreign Ministry said on its website. Seleznev was arrested July 5 by the U.S. Secret Service in an airport in the Maldives. He was taken to Guam where he appeared in court on Monday, according to the International Business Times. Seleznev faces up to 30 years in jail if found guilty of the charges, which include bank fraud, unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer and aggravated identity theft. Meanwhile Seleznev Sr., the lawmaker, called for "retaliation" against the Maldives that assisted U.S. authorities in the arrest.

Russian Lawmaker Demands 'Pornographic' Apollo Removed From Banknote

A nationalist lawmaker has found elements of pornography on a Russian 100-ruble bill, asking that an image of the Greek God Apollo be struck from the banknote in accordance with a law protecting children from potentially damaging information, a news report said. In his letter to the Central Bank, Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Roman Khudyakov said the statue of Apollo from the Bolshoi Theater portico showed "intimate parts of the body" and that the banknote should come with an "18+" rating, such as films deemed too explicit for minors, Izvestia reported Tuesday. Given the likelihood of children setting eyes upon the 100-ruble bill, which is worth about $2.90, Ivchenko argued the banknote should feature something more child-friendly — such as a picture of the Black Sea port of Sevastopol in Crimea, which Russia annexed in March, Izvestia reported. "As bills of that denomination often get into the hands of children as pocket money, I strongly request your help in changing the design of the banknote or otherwise bringing it into accordance with current legislative regulations," Khudyakov was quoted as saying in his letter, which Izvestia said it had obtained. The statue of Apollo at the Bolshoi was — to some controversy — covered with a prudish fig leaf when the theater was renovated a few years ago, and Khudyakov noted in his letter that the image on the bill no longer matched its original, the report said. Lawyers concurred that based on Russia's current legal definitions and codes, the lawmaker may be technically right, Izvestia reported.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

CNN "Moves" Ukraine's Slavyansk to Crimea

The American CNN TV channel has revealed a lack of geographical knowledge. A CNN report about militants' pullout from the towns of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk in southeastern Ukraine carried a map locating Slavyansk in the western part of Crimea. Covering Ukrainian troops' seizure of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk, both situating in Ukraine's southeast Donetsk region, the CNN mislocated Slavyansk, "moving" it to Crimea. Similar blunders echo the latest remark by Stephen Colbert, the host of the popular Colbert Report satirical show, who said, citing a Washington Post poll, that barely one in six Americans could locate Ukraine on a map of the world correctly.

Ukraine Claims Victory In Rebel Stronghold Of Slovyansk

Ukrainian security forces cleared pro-Russian separatists out of two eastern cities Saturday -- significant developments, though hardly conclusive, in the effort to bring unity and stability to the European nation. The Ukrainian flag was raised Saturday over Slovyansk and Kramatorsk, a pair of flashpoint cities that have been strongholds of groups advocating independence from the Kiev-based national government for months. President Petro Poroshenko's officed announced Saturday that separatists had left Slovyansk. Clearing this key city was very difficult, since militants hid inside residential buildings and other facilities where civilians are, according to Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for Ukraine's National Defense and Security Council. Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said most of the militants had left. "They are running. This morning intelligence suggests that (separatist militant leader Igor) Girkin and a significant number of fighters have fled Slovyansk. ... Some remain. Rest going to Gorlovka," he wrote.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

As Ukraine Cease-Fire Expires, Violence Escalates

Violence in Ukraine escalated sharply Tuesday, as artillery shells and airstrikes pierced the relative calm of a 10-day cease-fire, hours after President Petro Poroshenko allowed it to expire. Both sides appeared to be readying for a protracted battle, days after fighting has diminished but has not disappeared. It remained unclear whether the Ukrainian military, which has battled pro-Russian separatists since mid-April, would be able strike a decisive blow against the rebels, who have seized territory in eastern Ukraine. The longer the conflict drags on, the greater the risk of further civilian casualties and the harder it will be for Ukraine’s new government to stitch the society back together. Ukraine’s economy presented a formidable challenge even without a growing insurgency in the country’s industrial heartland.