Europe

French courts caught up in Yukos vs. Russia assets fight

FILE - In this June 3, 2011 file photo, former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky's co-defendant Platon Lebedev, surrounded by guards, walks to a courtroom in Moscow. The Russian state has won three court cases recently in France that had entangled rocket builders in Yukos' efforts to recover money it says the Kremlin unfairly appropriated. Four more rulings are expected Friday April 15, 2016 in Paris. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze, file)

FILE - In this June 3, 2011 file photo, former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky's co-defendant Platon Lebedev, surrounded by guards, walks to a courtroom in Moscow. The Russian state has won three court cases recently in France that had entangled rocket builders in Yukos' efforts to recover money it says the Kremlin unfairly appropriated. Four more rulings are expected Friday April 15, 2016 in Paris. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze, file)  (The Associated Press)

The fight between Russia's government and magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky's dismantled Yukos oil company has spread to courtrooms across Europe — and even into space.

The Russian state has won three court cases recently in France that had entangled rocket builders in Yukos' efforts to recover money it says the Kremlin unfairly appropriated. Four more rulings are expected Friday in Paris.

Both sides are watching the French cases closely ahead of a higher-stakes decision in the Netherlands next week, involving a 2014 arbitration ruling ordering Russia to pay ex-Yukos shareholders $50 billion.

Russia doesn't recognize that ruling, so shareholders have tried to seize Russian assets abroad, including in France.

The dispute dates to Khodorkovsky's 2003 arrest on charges of financial wrongdoing seen as a punishment for challenging Vladimir Putin's power.