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France court freezes Russian bank accounts over Swiss debt claim

[JURIST] A French court Monday froze bank accounts belonging to several Russian state organizations [BBC report; Kommersant report] including the Central Bank of Russia, [official website] the Russian Finance Ministry [official website], the presidential administration's foreign property arm, the Russian Energy Ministry [official website], state arms monopoly Rosoboronexport, [company website] and the government news service RIA Novosti [media website]. The accounts were held by a French division of the Russian bank VTB [official website]. The freezing follows pressure from a Swiss company, Compagnie Noga d'Imporatation et d'Exportation, SA (Noga), and stems from a food-for-oil contract between Noga and Russia in 1991-1992 just after the breakup of the Soviet Union. Russia said that it will appeal the ruling [AFP report]. Reuters has more. UPI has additional coverage.

Russia unilaterally terminated the food-for-oil contract with Noga in 1993. Noga has previously attempted to seize assets of the Russian state as payment for the debt, including attempting to seize a Russian sailing ship docked in a French port [BBC report], valuable paintings from the collection of Moscow's Pushkin Fine Arts Museum [NYT report] on loan to a Swiss gallery, and two Russian military jets participating in the Paris Air Show [CNN report].

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