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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chaika Criticizes Swiss Court

The prosecutor general on Monday slammed a Swiss court's decision to lift a freeze on funds related to bankrupt oil firm Yukos as an unfriendly move toward the country.

"We consider this decision politically motivated. This is a move of nonrespect toward our country and an attack on its sovereignty," Yury Chaika told a news conference. He said his deputy would fly to Switzerland for consultations this week.

Swiss judicial authorities said last week that they had lifted a freeze on all funds related to Yukos, worth some 200 million to 300 million Swiss francs ($166 million to $249 million).

The move followed a ruling by Switzerland's highest court blocking a Swiss government bid to give Russia documents linked to bank accounts held by former Yukos owners, including Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev, and several companies.

The landmark ruling by the Lausanne-based Federal Tribunal, or Supreme Court, halted Swiss cooperation with Russia in a criminal case that the five judges said seemed aimed at ousting "political rivals."

The Swiss ruling concluded "that the [Russian] penal procedure in the case at hand is being maneuvered by the powers that be with the intention to rein in the class of rich 'oligarchs' and sideline potential or declared political adversaries."

Lawyers for Khodorkovsky and Lebedev welcomed the decision, saying it was the first time the top Swiss court had invoked political persecution and human rights violations as grounds for not helping foreign authorities pursue a criminal matter.

Khodorkovsky and Lebedev are each serving eight-year prison terms in Siberia on charges of fraud and tax evasion.

The Swiss court said the two should not have been sent to prison camps in Siberia because Russian law provided for the place of detention to be close to their home or place of trial.

Russia this month sold the last big asset of Yukos. State-controlled Rosneft, now the country's largest oil firm, bought refineries and other assets from Yukos at a state-forced auction earlier this year.