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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Moscow Will Contest Order Seizing State Assets in France

PARIS -- The government has told lawyers to dispute the seizure of state bank accounts in France, which was ordered at the request of a Swiss-based firm, an embassy spokesman said Wednesday.

Spokesman Konstantin Petrichenko said last week's seizure was regarded as a violation of the Vienna Convention governing diplomatic status and relations.

"The Foreign Ministry has begun the necessary proceedings and we hope the situation will be unblocked rapidly," he said.

A Paris high court ordered the seizure of all Russian state bank accounts in France at the request of Swiss-based trading company Noga, which is seeking $63 million in debts from Moscow authorities over oil-for-foodstuffs deals in 1991 and 1992.

The order also covered the bank accounts of firms Rosneft, Slavneft and Vneshekonombank's holdings - along other firms in which the state has a stake.

Rosneft officials Wednesday denied the company's accounts had been frozen, Prime-Tass reported.

The seizure particularly affected Eurobank, the Central Bank's subsidiary in Paris.

Central Bank Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko told a Moscow news conference that the ruling did not affect the bank's foreign currency and gold reserves and that Eurobank would mount a legal challenge to the ruling.

The defense would show the Central Bank was not responsible for government obligations, Gerashchenko said.

Gerashchenko did not specifically refer to Noga regarding the freeze, but said the bank had been forced to defend itself previously against the firm.

Noga claimed about $279 million in a Luxembourg court in 1993, alleging Russian agencies broke contracts to deliver fuel in return for loans.