EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
FORMER FIRST SECTION
CASE OF OAO NEFTYANAYA KOMPANIYA YUKOS v. RUSSIA
(Application No. 14902/04)
<*> This judgment will become final in the circumstances set out in Article 44 § 2 of the Convention. It may be subject to editorial revision.
In the case of OAO Neftyanaya Kompaniya Yukos v. Russia,
The European Court of Human Rights (Former First Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:
Christos Rozakis, President,
Sverre Erik Jebens,
Giorgio Malinverni, judges,
Andrey Bushev, ad hoc judge,
and Nielsen, Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 24 June 2014,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
- The case originated in an application (No. 14902/04) against the Russian Federation lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by OAO Neftyanaya Kompaniya Yukos (“the applicant company”), on 23 April 2004.
- In a judgment delivered on 20 September 2011 (“the principal judgment”), the Court held that in the 2000 Tax Assessment proceedings the applicant company did not have sufficient time for preparation of the case at first instance and on appeal, in breach of Article 6 of the Convention (§§ 534 – 551 of the principal judgment), that the assessment of the penalties relating to 2000 and the doubling of the penalties for 2001 were unlawful and in breach of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (§§ 563 – 575), and that in the enforcement proceedings against the applicant company the domestic authorities failed to strike a fair balance between the legitimate aim of these proceedings and the measures employed, in breach of the same Convention provision (§§ 645 – 658). The Court dismissed the remainder of the applicant company’s complaints.
- Under Article 41 of the Convention the applicant company sought just satisfaction of 37,981,000,000 euros (EUR) in respect of pecuniary damage and submitted that the judgment of 20 September 2011 constituted sufficient just satisfaction in respect of non-pecuniary damage. The applicant company further requested payment of 4,333,105 pounds sterling (GBP) and 762,148 dollars (USD) in respect of fees, costs and expenses.
- Since the question of the application of Article 41 of the Convention was not ready for decision, the Court reserved it and invited the Government and the applicant company to submit, within three months, their written observations on that issue and, in particular, to notify the Court of any agreement they might reach (ibid., § 671 of the principal judgment, and point 10 of the operative provisions).
- The applicant company and the Government each filed written observations on 13 June 2012. Both parties submitted further written observations and then replied to each other’s observations on 31 July 2012, 1 March and 15 May 2013.
- The composition of the Chamber was determined according to the provisions of Article 23 § 3 of the Convention and Rule 26 § 4 of the Rules of Court. Pursuant to these provisions, Christos Rozakis, Nina , Sverre Erik Jebens and Giorgio Malinverni continued to sit in the case following the expiry of their terms of office.
- Article 41 of the Convention provides:
“If the Court finds that there has been a violation of the Convention or the Protocols thereto, and if the internal law of the High Contracting Party concerned allows only partial reparation to be made, the Court shall, if necessary, afford just satisfaction to the injured party.”
- Pecuniary damage
- The parties’ submissions
(a) The applicant company’s arguments
- The applicant company took the view that the violations found by the Court in the principal judgment had resulted in considerable pecuniary losses. More specifically, the company would have survived had it not been for the violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 in respect of the enforcement proceedings, that is, had it not been required to sell its main production subsidiary OAO Yuganskneftegaz, and had it been given ninety days to repay each debt and been permitted to sell less valuable assets.
- With reference to an expert report, the applicant company considered that the violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 on account of the domestic authorities’ failure in the enforcement proceedings to strike a fair balance between the legitimate aim of these proceedings and the measures employed had led to the direct loss of EUR 37,981,000,000, representing the expert’s assessment of the applicant company’s value on 19 December 2004. The applicant company did not advance any claim for interest payments in connection with this sum.
- The applicant company submitted that the causal link between the violations found and its loss of the stated value had been established. However, it conceded that the assumptions and conclusions in the expert report which valued its loss at the above-stated amount had differed to a certain extent from the Court’s conclusions in its principal judgment.
- With regard to the issue of the appropriate method of distributing the award, the applicant company asserted that, given that it had been liquidated in 2007 and in view of the Court’s flexible practice in respect of the payment of awards under Article 41 of the Convention, the amount should be paid to the Yukos International Foundation. This entity was created in the Netherlands by the applicant company with a view to distributing “after [the] payment of the creditors… any funds received and to be received by it through a scheme to shareholders of Yukos Oil Company, in accordance with the applicable law and the principles of reasonableness and fairness”.
(b) The Government’s arguments
- The Government asked the Court to reject the applicant company’s claim in full. They argued that no injured party remained in this case and that there was no need to award compensation, since, among other things, no financial loss arose from any violations found by the Court. In this latter respect, they took the view that the sale of OAO Yuganskneftegaz would have been necessary even if the State had used a more flexible approach to enforcement, as suggested by the Court in the principal judgment. The outcome of the enforcement proceedings would not have been different even had the enforcement fee been reduced and had the authorities carried out a full and reasoned assessment of the consequences of enforcement.
- In respect of the violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 with regard to the enforcement proceedings, the Government was of the view that at the relevant time the applicant company had simply been unable to pay its debts. The company’s position was to deny the existence of any tax liabilities and to refuse payment. In such circumstances, even a reasoned review of all enforcement options would not have led to the applicant company being granted more time. The Government commented in detail on the relevant factors highlighted by the Court in the principal judgment and attached an expert report by the head counsel of the Russian bailiffs’ service addressing these questions. The Government concluded that the outcome of the enforcement proceedings would have remained essentially the same.
- The Government specifically disagreed with the working assumptions used by the expert report submitted by the applicant company. In their view, the report had mistakenly assumed increased oil production, in spite of the need to sell assets and to cut spending on investment; the report made no reduction to reflect the hasty circumstances of the sale of the applicant company’s assets, and it also allowed the company excessively long time-limits for payment, unrelated to anything in domestic law or practice. The Government submitted their own expert report suggesting that the applicant company was worthless at the relevant time on account of the fraudulent nature of its tax management and the related legal risks. More generally, with reference to the case of McCann and Others v. the United Kingdom (27 September 1995, Series A No. 324), the Government suggested that, given the fraudulent nature, scale and seriousness of the domestic case against the applicant company, any pecuniary award would be inappropriate in the circumstances.
- As regards the question of the possible recipient of a payment under Article 41 of the Convention, the Government pointed out that the applicant company no longer existed and that the entity referred to by the applicant company could not be a proper recipient, in that the Court had no jurisdiction to delegate to a third party the power to grant just satisfaction. They also pointed out that the beneficiaries of the Yukos International Foundation were anonymous, that there was a risk of double compensation because some of the applicant company’s shareholders were pursuing legal proceedings in other venues, and that there was no guarantee that the interests of all shareholders would be reflected in the distribution of awards by this entity, rather than the interests of merely some of them, who were likely to be the “least deserving”.
- In this latter respect, the Government took the view that the possible payment of any award under Article 41 of the Convention, either directly or indirectly, to certain shareholders and managers who at the relevant time had instigated tax fraud by the applicant company and benefited from dividends paid out of tax fraud would not be just, fair and equitable. In the Government’s view, the risk of possible abuse in the distribution of funds was real. They referred to an example of how one of the surviving entities created by the applicant company, which was registered in the Netherlands and similar in nature to the Yukos International Foundation, had paid out money to an affiliate of the former majority shareholder rather than distributing it to all of the shareholders.
- As to the damage allegedly resulting from the Court’s invalidation of the penalties, the Government suggested that this should not be compensated, since at the time of the applicant company’s liquidation there remained a huge unpaid debt, including unpaid taxes. Even if the impugned penalties were to have been returned to the applicant company at the relevant time, the sums would then have had to be paid back to the State in order to cover the applicant company’s debts of around USD 8 billion.
- The Court’s assessment
(a) Violation of Article 6 of the Convention
- At the outset the Court would point out that in its principal judgment it found a violation of Article 6 of the Convention on account of the haste with which the domestic courts had conducted the 2000 Tax Assessment proceedings against the applicant company, both at first instance and on appeal. The Court cannot speculate as to what the outcome of these proceedings might have been had the violation of the Convention not occurred (see, for example, Jalloh v. Germany [GC], No. 54810/00, § 128, ECHR 2006-IX, and Martinie v. France [GC], No. 58675/00, § 59, ECHR 2006-VI).
- It finds that there is insufficient proof of a causal link between the violation found and the pecuniary damage allegedly sustained by the applicant company. There is therefore no ground for an award in this respect.
(b) Violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 on account of the retroactive imposition of the penalties for the years 2000 and 2001
- The Court observes that in the principal judgment it concluded that the penalties in the 2000 Tax Assessment and certain of the penalties in the 2001 Tax Assessment were unlawful and in breach of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1. The amounts in question, RUB 19,185,272,697 (approximately 543,623,045 euros) in respect of the year 2000, and RUB 19,556,570,413 (approximately 569,898,525 euros) in respect of the year 2001, were effectively paid by the applicant company during the enforcement proceedings and thus represented a clear pecuniary loss, which, in the Court’s view, should be compensated under Article 41 of the Convention.
- Despite the Government’s objections, the Court sees no good reasons to depart from the principle of restitutio in integrum, firmly established in its case-law, in assessing the amount of pecuniary compensation in the present case. In its principal judgment it found a violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 concerning the imposition of the penalties for the year 2000 and in part for the year 2001. The Court ruled that the penalties were unlawful as such, and did not represent an irregularity of a merely procedural nature (see, by contrast, Former King of Greece and Others v. Greece [GC] (just satisfaction), No. 25701/94, §§ 78 – 79, 28 November 2002; and Beyeler v. Italy (just satisfaction) [GC], No. 33202/96, § 20, 28 May 2002).
- The Court considers that the figure of RUB 38,741,843,110, representing the amount of penalties for the year 2000 and one half of the penalties for the year 2001 (see paragraph 20 above), was effectively paid by the applicant company on 12 November 2007 at the latest (see paragraph 303 of the principal judgment). This sum equalled EUR 1,078,246,919 at the conversion rate on that date.
- In addition, the Court also recalls that the applicant company was compelled to pay the 7% enforcement fee in respect of the mentioned unlawful penalties. The Court decides that since it has declared the original penalties unlawful, the payment of the 7% enforcement fee in respect of these penalties was unlawful as well.
- The Court notes in this connection that the applicant company was required to pay the enforcement fee of RUB 1,342,969,088.79 (approximately EUR 37,353,983) in respect of the penalties for the year 2000 and the enforcement fee of RUB 1,368,959,928.91 (approximately EUR 36,636,218) in respect of one half of the penalties for the year 2001, both sums having been effectively paid by the applicant company on 12 November 2007 at the latest (see paragraph 303 of the principal judgment).
- These sums represented clear pecuniary losses sustained by the applicant company, in breach of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1. They should thus be compensated under Article 41 of the Convention. The amount of RUB 2,711,929,017.7, consisting of RUB 1,342,969,088.79 for the year 2000 and RUB 1,368,959,928.91 for the year 2001, equalled EUR 75,477,284 at the conversion rate on that date.
- Taking into account the inflation rate of 12.62% for the euro between that date and the present time, the Court assesses the amount of pecuniary damage to the applicant company resulting from the violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 on account of the retroactive imposition of the penalties (see paragraph 22 above) and the payment of the enforcement fee on these unlawful penalties (see paragraph 25 above) for the years 2000 and 2001 at EUR 1,299,324,198.
(c) Violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 on account of the enforcement proceedings
- The Court refers to its finding in the principal judgment that the domestic authorities failed to strike a fair balance between the legitimate aim of the enforcement proceedings in respect of the applicant company and the measures employed, by being inflexible regarding the pace of the proceedings, obliging the company to pay excessive fees and failing to give explicit account of all of the relevant factors. The above considerations led the Court to conclude that there had been a violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 on account of the enforcement proceedings in respect of the applicant company.
- In this respect, the Court notes that the working assumptions used by the applicant company in its assessment of the prospects of the applicant company’s survival and its value in the aftermath of the events remain at least in part speculative (see, for example, Credit and Industrial Bank v. the Czech Republic, No. 29010/95, § 88, ECHR 2003-XI (extracts)). In its principal judgment the Court did not conclude, as alleged by the applicant company, that the applicant company would have survived the enforcement proceedings had it not been for the aforementioned shortcomings in these proceedings. Therefore, the Court cannot accept the applicant company’s claim in full (see, for example, Goddi v. Italy, 9 April 1984, § 35, Series A No. 76; Tre AB v. Sweden, 7 July 1989, § 66, Series A No. 159; Beaumartin v. France, 24 November 1994, § 44, Series A No. 296-B; Kingsley v. the United Kingdom [GC], No. 35605/97, § 43, ECHR 2002-IV; Ezeh and Connors v. the United Kingdom [GC], Nos. 39665/98 and 40086/98, §§ 141 and 143, ECHR 2003-X and Martinie v. France [GC], cited above, § 59).
- Even if it cannot be said that the above-cited defects alone caused the applicant company’s liquidation, they nevertheless seriously contributed to it, directly resulting in pecuniary damage satisfying the causality criteria of Article 41 of the Convention.
- In this respect, the Court recalls that in paragraph 655 of the principal judgment it has clearly stated that the above-mentioned defects very seriously contributed to the applicant company’s demise, having identified:
“…[a] factor which seriously affected the company’s situation in the enforcement proceedings. The applicant company was subjected to a 7% enforcement fee in connection with the entire amount of its tax-related liability, which constituted an additional hefty sum of over RUB 43 billion (EUR 1.16 billion), the payment of which could not be suspended or rescheduled (see paragraphs 484 – 486). This was a flat-rate fee which the authorities apparently refused to reduce, and these sums had to be paid even before the company could begin repaying the main body of the debt (see paragraph 484). The fee was by its nature unrelated to the actual amount of the enforcement expenses borne by the bailiffs. Whilst the Court may accept that there is nothing wrong as a matter of principle with requiring a debtor to pay for the expenses relating to the enforcement of a debt or to threaten a debtor with a sanction to incite his or her voluntary compliance with enforcement writs, in the circumstances of the case the resulting sum was completely out of proportion to the amount of the enforcement expenses which could have possibly been expected to be borne or had actually been borne by the bailiffs. Because of its rigid application, instead of inciting voluntary compliance, it contributed very seriously to the applicant company’s demise.”
- The 7% enforcement fee (levied on unpaid taxes, interests and penalties) in respect of the applicant company amounted to:
– RUB 6,848,291,175 (approximately EUR 190,481,640) for the year 2000;
– RUB 12,652,063,176 (approximately EUR 345,770,570) for the year 2001;
– RUB 13,477,590,451 (approximately EUR 360,688,386) for the year 2002;
– RUB 11,926,766,600 (approximately EUR 355,784,986) for the year 2003.
The enforcement fee for the tax liability for the years 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003 totalled RUB 44,904,711,402.82 (approximately EUR 1,252,725,582). As indicated above, this lead the Court to conclude that in the circumstances of the case the resulting sum was “completely out of proportion to the amount of the enforcement expenses which could have possibly been expected to be borne or had actually been borne by the bailiffs” (see paragraph 655 in the principal judgment).
- Making a reasonable assessment of the enforcement fee and having regard to the parties’ submissions in this respect, the Court accepts the Government’s indication of an appropriate rate of 4%, which they made in their submissions of 30 March 2013. The Court accordingly decides that in order to satisfy the requirements of proportionality the enforcement fee should have been reduced to 4%.
- In order to calculate the amount of the applicant company’s pecuniary loss in this connection, the Court deducts the amount of RUB 2,711,929,017.7 (EUR 75,477,284) representing the 7% enforcement fee paid by the applicant company on the unlawful portion of the penalties for the years 2000 and 2001 (see paragraph 25 above), from the entire amount of the enforcement fee of RUB 44,904,711,402.82 (approximately EUR 1,252,725,582) mentioned in paragraph 31 to arrive at the figure of RUB 42,192,782,385.12 (approximately EUR 1,177,070,056).
- It then follows that the applicant company sustained a clear pecuniary loss of RUB 18,082,621,022, representing the difference between RUB 42,192,782,385.12 (see paragraph 33 above) and the amount of that fee calculated at a 4% rate (RUB 24,110,161,362). The Court observes that the enforcement fee was effectively paid by the applicant company on 12 November 2007 at the latest (see paragraph 303 of the principal judgment). The stated amount equalled EUR 503,268,013 at the conversion rate on that date.
- Taking into account the inflation rate of 12.62% for the euro between that date and the present time, the Court assesses the amount of pecuniary damage to the applicant company resulting from the violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 on account of the manner in which the authorities conducted the enforcement proceedings at EUR 566,780,436.
(d) The method of distribution of the award
- The Court has concluded that the applicant company sustained pecuniary damage as a result of the violations of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 on account of the retroactive imposition of the penalties for the years 2000 and 2001 and the payment of the 7% enforcement fee on these penalties (see subpart (b) in paragraphs 20 – 26 above) and the disproportionate character of the enforcement proceedings (see subpart (c) in paragraphs 27 – 35 above). It has rejected the remainder of the applicant company’s claim under this head as unsubstantiated. The overall amount of pecuniary damage, including compensation for inflationary losses, sustained by the applicant company in the present case thus amounts to EUR 1,866,104,634 (see paragraphs 26 and 35 above).
- With regard to the appropriate method of distribution of this award, the Court does not accept the applicant company’s suggestion that payment be made to the Yukos International Foundation, as the case file contains no evidence confirming who exactly in such a circumstance would benefit from the award in this case.
- Regard being had to the fact that the applicant company ceased to exist (compare to Stankov and the United Macedonian Organisation Ilinden v. Bulgaria, Nos. 29221/95 and 29225/95, § 121, ECHR 2001-IX; and Capital Bank AD v. Bulgaria, No. 49429/99, § 80, ECHR 2005-XII (extracts)), the Court decides that the aforementioned amount should be paid by the respondent Government to the applicant company’s shareholders and their legal successors and heirs, as the case may be, in proportion to their nominal participation in the company’s stock (see, mutatis mutandis, Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church (Metropolitan Inokentiy) and Others v. Bulgaria (just satisfaction), Nos. 412/03 and 35677/04, § 39, 16 September 2010; Sophia Andreou v. Turkey (just satisfaction), No. 18360/91, §§ 33 – 38, 22 June 2010; and Lordos and Others v. Turkey (just satisfaction), No. 15973/90, §§ 61 – 70, 10 January 2012). In order to facilitate the Government’s task, the Court refers to the list of the applicant company’s shareholders, as they stood at the time of the company’s liquidation, which is held by ZAO VTB Registrator, the company which had held and ran the register of the applicant company.
- Further, given the nature of the violation found, the Court does not consider relevant the Government’s references to the allegedly fraudulent conduct of the applicant company’s management and some of its shareholders. The applicant company has already been held liable for the actions described in the various tax and enforcement proceedings and the Court sees no reasons to reduce the amount of award to take account of conduct for which the applicant company has already been punished.
- With regard to the Government’s reference to the applicant company’s allegedly unmet liabilities, amounting to over USD 8 billion at the time of its liquidation, the Court takes the view that this argument is similar to the applicant company’s evaluation of the consequences of the violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 in respect of the enforcement proceedings (see paragraph 28 above) and remains speculative (see, mutatis mutandis, S.A. Dangeville v. France, No. 36677/97, § 70, ECHR 2002-III).
- In this respect, the Court would note that it is clear from the course of the enforcement and liquidation proceedings that the domestic authorities chose not to seek repayment of the entirety of the applicant company’s debt by, for instance, granting the applicant company more time. Rather, they decided to precipitate the proceedings by auctioning the applicant company’s main production unit and liquidating it, notwithstanding the risk of being subsequently unable to recover some of the company’s liabilities. The existence and scale of the allegedly unmet liabilities referred to by the Government resulted at least in part from the method used by the domestic authorities to recover the applicant company’s tax liability.
- Moreover, the fact remains that any liabilities that the applicant company may have had in respect of its creditors were either met or extinguished within the framework of the enforcement and liquidation proceedings in November 2007, and there is nothing in the case file or the parties’ submissions to suggest that under domestic law the applicant company or its shareholders remain liable for any payments in favour of any of its creditors resulting from the above-mentioned enforcement or liquidation proceedings. In view of the above, the Court rejects the Government’s argument as unfounded.
- In so far as the respondent Government referred to various parallel proceedings allegedly brought by some of the applicant company’s shareholders in other international fora, the Court notes that there have been two final arbitral awards in cases brought against the Russian Federation by a group of the applicant company’s minority shareholders under bilateral investment treaties. These awards were made on 12 September 2010 and 20 July 2012 respectively by the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce. There is also a pending set of arbitration proceedings brought by the applicant company’s majority shareholders (see paragraphs 519 – 526 of the principal judgment), in which no final award has been adopted so far.
- As regards the former two cases, the Court would note that the case file contains no information regarding the enforcement of these awards. In such circumstances, the Court does not find it necessary to take this information into account in the context of the present judgment and at this stage of the proceedings. The Government’s reference to the pending case is thus irrelevant.
- Non-pecuniary damage
- The applicant company submitted that the principal judgment was in itself sufficient just satisfaction in respect of non-pecuniary damage.
- The respondent Government did not object.
- The Court considers that, in the circumstances of the present case, the findings of a violation of Article 6 of the Convention and violations of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 constitute sufficient just satisfaction for the applicant company in respect of non-pecuniary damage.
- Costs and expenses
- The applicant company requested payment of GBP 4,333,105 in respect of the legal fees charged by its counsel Mr Piers Gardner for the work on the case prior to the principal judgment, USD 174,000 in respect of the costs of an expert report and USD 588,148 in respect of various fees incurred as a result of the preparation of submissions on Article 41 of the Convention.
- The Government asked the Court to take into account the fact that the initial application had been unsuccessful on most of the points of principle and that this should be reflected in any award under this head.
- According to the Court’s case-law, an applicant is entitled to the reimbursement of costs and expenses only in so far as a violation of the Convention has been established and it has been shown that these costs and expenses have been actually and necessarily incurred and are reasonable as to quantum. In the present case, regard being had to the documents in the Court’s possession and the above criteria, the Court considers it reasonable to award a lump sum of EUR 300,000 covering costs under all heads, to be paid to the Yukos International Foundation directly, as requested by the applicant company.
- Default interest
- The Court considers it appropriate that the default interest rate should be based on the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank, to which should be added three percentage points.
FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT
- Holds unanimously that the finding of a violation constitutes in itself sufficient just satisfaction for the non-pecuniary damage sustained by the applicant company;
- Holds, by five votes to two,
(a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicant company’s shareholders as they stood at the time of the company’s liquidation and, as the case may be, their legal successors and heirs EUR 1,866,104,634 (one billion, eight hundred sixty six million, hundred and four thousand, six hundred thirty four euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable, in respect of pecuniary damage, to be converted into the currency of the respondent State at the rate applicable at the date of settlement;
(b) that the respondent State must produce, in co-operation with the Committee of Ministers, within six months from the date on which this judgment becomes final, a comprehensive plan, including a binding time frame, for distribution of this award of just satisfaction;
- Holds, by six votes to one,
(a) that the respondent State is to pay within three months from the date on which the judgment becomes final in accordance with Article 44 § 2 of the Convention, EUR 300,000 (three hundred thousand euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable, in respect of costs and expenses, which sum is to be paid to the Yukos International Foundation, at the request of the applicant company;
(b) that from the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amount at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points;
- Dismisses, unanimously, the remainder of the applicant company’s claim for just satisfaction.
Done in English, and notified in writing on 31 July 2014, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
In accordance with Article 45 § 2 of the Convention and Rule 74 § 2 of the Rules of Court, the following separate opinions are annexed to this judgment:
(a) concurring opinion of Judge Jebens;
(b) partly dissenting opinion of Judge Bushev, joined in part by Judge Hajiyev.