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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

French Court Orders Release of Controversial Tall Ship Sedov




The Russian tall ship Sedov left the French port of Brest after a local court ruled to release the vessel, which was detained at the request of a Swiss company maintaining the Russian government owes it hundreds of millions of dollars.


The Brest arbitration court ruled Monday to allow the sailing ship f impounded July 13 by a Brest court at the request of Noga d'Importation et d'Exportation SA f to leave immediately for the Portuguese island of Madeira. It also ordered Noga to pay about $70,000 to the Murmansk Marine University, which owns the ship.


The court said its ruling cannot be appealed and the 117-meter Sedov should be allowed to set sail immediately.


According to Noga's lawyer Christopher Ayela, however, the ship should have remained in Brest until a higher court in Rennes considers an appeal filed by the company's lawyers. He estimated this would take up to seven days.


If the higher court upholds Monday's ruling, the decision can be challenged in Paris' supreme court of appeals, he said.


The lawyer argued that the Brest court has come under strong pressure from Russian authorities and hoped the Rennes court would be more objective.


Moreover, Noga will try to have President Vladimir Putin's Il-96 plane seized when he visits France in October, another Noga lawyer was quoted as saying by ORT after Monday's verdict.


Noga is seeking to collect $800 million that company head Nessim Gaon says the Russian government owes for food-for-oil deals in the early 1990s.


The Sedov was arrested in Brest upon arriving to participate in an annual boat festival, which is part of the July 14 Bastille Day celebrations across France. The arbitration court ordered Noga to pay about $35,000 to festival organizers.


Murmansk Marine University's rector, Alexander Golyanov, maintains the university can not be held accountable for the federal government's debts.


According to Noga lawyers, however, the Sedov is as fit for being auctioned off to pay the Russian government's debts as any other state-owned property.