YUKOS argued that the circumstances of the tax assessment and enforcement, the prosecution of Mr Khodorkovsky and other owners and officials of the company, as well as the statements of the highest State officials show the intention of the Russian Government to destroy the company and to take control of its assets (Article 18 of the Convention, § 661).
The ECHR recognized a violation in the speed with which the Russian courts had conducted the tax assessment for 2000, and in defining the penalties. However the position of YUKOS concerning Article 18 was destroyed in 2 steps:
- Article 18 (principle prohibiting application of restrictive measures for purposes other than the public ones) is applicable only where the restrictions are permitted under the Convention. In this manner the Court cut off the violations where the restrictions had not been permitted.
- The Court applied the “incontrovertible and direct proof” standard. The statement of the highest State officials do not meet this standard – especially taken in their respective context – for the purpose of proving that the aim of Russian authorities was to destroy the company for political reasons (§ 665).