30 Jun 2022 09:37

Former Yukos shareholders announce seizure of Stolichnaya, Moskovskaya vodka brands in Benelux countries

MOSCOW. June 30 (Interfax) - The Dutch Court of Appeal has approved the seizure of 18 Russian vodka brands, including Stolichnaya and Moskovskaya, in the Benelux countries by the former majority shareholders of Yukos to enforce their $50 billion claim against Russia, the company representing the oil company's former shareholders, GML reported.

"This is a momentous decision, because it paves the way for the lawful enforcement of our Awards by seizing Russian state property not only in The Netherlands, but also in 168 other countries around the world under the New York Convention," GML CEO Tim Osborne was quoted as saying in the statement.

If Russia continues to refuse to pay the arbitral awards, the former Yukos majority shareholders will put the trademarks up for public auction.

FKP Soyuzplodoimport, the Russian state company that holds the rights to the vodka brands, has not responded to Interfax requests for comment.

However, an FKP Soyuzplodoimport announcement for provision of legal services in the Netherlands was posted on the government procurements website. The documents show that a contract will be signed with law firm Blenheim Advocaten B.V. Under the terms of the draft contract, remuneration paid to the law firm cannot exceed 4.8 million euros.

A dispute over popular Russian vodka brands, foremost Stolichnaya and Moskovskaya, has been underway between FKP Soyuzplodoimport and Spirits International (SPI), a company founded by businessman Yury Shefler, since 2003 because in many countries the rights to these trademarks are held by SPI and distributors. This makes it difficult to export Russian vodka under Soviet brands. FKP Soyuzplodoimport has launched lawsuits to regain Russia's rights to the vodka brands outside of the country.

FKP Soyuzplodoimport, which was established by order of the Russian government in December 2001, holds the rights to more than 140 trademarks for spirits, products that contain alcohol and food products, including Stolichnaya, Moskovskaya, Russkaya, Sovetskaya, Sibirskaya and Starka. It also holds the rights to the appellation of origin Russkaya vodka (Russian vodka).