MOSCOW, March 24 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's foreign ministry has rejected a summons sent via the American State Department by lawyers acting for American minority shareholders of embattled oil company Yukos, the ministry said Friday.
"The State Department-Foreign Ministry channel cannot be used to hand over any judicial documents, after mutual legal assistance in civil and trade cases between the countries was frozen in 2003, which is the U.S. side's fault," the ministry's information and press department said.
Media reports said 12 Yukos minority shareholders filed a suit in a District of Columbia court against Russia, energy giant Gazprom, oil major Rosneft, its state-owned parent company Rosneftegaz and a number of government officials on October 24, charging them with a coordinated attack on Yukos aimed to renationalize the company.
Mutual legal assistance can be renewed if the U.S. resumes the practice of meeting Russia's judicial requests on a mutual basis in accordance with long-standing legal cooperation, the Russian ministry said.
A 76.79% stake in Yukos production unit Yuganskneftegaz was sold by the federal property management fund on December 19, 2004, in lieu of Yukos' tax arrears for 2000 and 2001. Several days later, Rosneft purchased the unit from Baikal Finance Group, the shadowy group that won the auction.