21:18 GMT +318 January 2020
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    The Belgian government is not responsible for the seizure of Russian assets on its territory over the case of now-defunct Yukos oil company, Belgian lawyer and international law expert Jean-Pierre Jacques told Sputnik on Monday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Last week, France and Belgium froze Russian government assets, including bank accounts, as part of the 2014 Hague court ruling.

    "Belgium has not taken any initiative, any ministerial decision to seize the assets. It cannot do it because it’s a decision made solely by Yukos [shareholders]," Jacques said.

    He said that the asset seizures in Belgium and France are regulated by a public body, which acts independently of the government.

    "This is where confusion comes, I think, from the Russian side when they say that since the assets were seized in Belgium, Belgium is responsible for what is going on."

    He added that Yukos shareholders based their actions on Belgian law.

    Following the move by France and Belgium, Kremlin Chief of Staff Sergei Ivanov said Russia would respond to the seizure of state assets abroad and Moscow would take prompt retaliatory action.

    On Sunday, Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said all assets of the Russian Embassy in Belgium and the permanent missions to the European Union and NATO in Brussels would be unlocked at the beginning of the upcoming week.

    Yukos was declared bankrupt by a Moscow arbitration court in 2006 and state-controlled oil company Rosneft purchased the bulk of its assets.

    Yukos’ shareholders, who claim Russian authorities illegally forced the company out of business, have been awarded $50 billion in compensation by a court in the Hague in summer 2014.


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