Ukraine’s richest man sues Russia in European court for theft

Ukraine's richest man sues Russia in European court for theft

Rinat Akhmetov.Photothek via Getty Images

The Ukrainian oligarch owns, among other things, two huge steel plants in the coastal city of Mariupol, which the Russians captured at the end of May after heavy fighting. The last Ukrainian stronghold, the Azovstal steel plant, was almost completely destroyed.

Earlier, Akhmetov had already lost a chain of coal mines and other companies to the pro-Russian separatists who overran large parts of Donbass in 2014 with the support of Moscow.

Akhmetov is demanding compensation from Russia for the losses incurred since Russia invaded Ukraine four months ago. According to him, the damage amounts to several billions. He said that Russia also stole large quantities of steel stored at Azovstal and the Ilyich plant.

Black Sea Siege

He wants the court to order Moscow to immediately stop the looting of steel and grain from the occupied territories of Ukraine and the blockade of the Black Sea that prevents Ukraine from exporting its grain and other products.

It does not seem that Akhmedov’s move will lead to much. Russia said it was no longer bound by the court’s rulings after being expelled from the Council of Europe in protest of the raid. Earlier, President Putin had already signed a law giving Russian law priority over court rulings.

However, Akhmetov is keen to condemn Russia nonetheless. “This should not go unpunished,” he said. With this, the oligarch may hope to establish a legal basis for the use of frozen Russian assets as compensation to Ukraine.

Akhmetov played an important role in Ukrainian politics as a money-lender and a member of parliament for the pro-Russian Party of Regions led by President Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted in 2014. But when separatists tried to seize Mariupol in May 2014, workers at its steel plants expelled them from the city. .

suspected of a double role

He eventually fled to Kyiv-controlled territory after separatists seized power in Donetsk. For a long time, he was suspected of playing a double role, trying to keep the separatists friendly by distributing food parcels from the stadium of the Shakhtar Donetsk football club.

Last year, President Zelensky accused him of involvement in Russian plans for a coup against his government. But since the Russian invasion, the oligarchy has rallied firmly behind the president.

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