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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 August 2004, 08:45 GMT 09:45 UK
Yukos shares tumble on setback
Russian trading room, with broker watching share moves on screen
Trading in Yukos has become a volatile and unpredictable business
Shares in beleaguered Russian oil giant Yukos have tumbled in Moscow after bailiffs seized a key asset - despite a court order saying the move is illegal.

Russia's Justice Ministry took control of oil production unit Yuganskneftegaz late on Monday, as part of plans to recover $3.4bn (1.8bn) in back taxes.

Yukos had earlier warned that it could go bust if the division is sold off.

The firm's shares have been on a roller-coaster ride in recent days, surging and slumping as news emerges.

The Moscow stock exchange suspended Yukos shares on Tuesday because they had tumbled too far.

Before trading was halted, the shares had shed more than 15% to 107.50 roubles.

Knock-down

The stock has lost about three quarters of its value since April, when the Kremlin started legal action to recover the unpaid taxes.

The firm's former boss, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, is currently in jail facing charges of fraud and tax evasion.

The battle between the Kremlin and Yukos is widely seen as stemming from Mr Khodorkovsky's decision to fund opposition political parties in Russia.

At the end of July, state bailiffs announced they intended to sell off Yuganskneftegaz, which accounts for 60% of Yukos's daily production of 1.7 million barrels.

The oil company was dealt another blow on Monday, Russian news agencies reported, when a court upheld the seizure of assets at a separate unit, Tomskneftegaz.

The court deferred a similar decision on a third production unit, Samaraneftegaz, until next month.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
The BBC's Steve Rosenberg
"For Russia's embattled oil giants it was another bad day"



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