ST. PETERSBURG, January 19 (RAPSI) - The Constitutional Court has allowed Russia not to pay €1.9 billion compensation awarded to former Yukos shareholders by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), RAPSI reports from the courtroom on Thursday.

According to the Court, the ECHR ruling contravenes the Russian Constitution.

Russia is free to deviate from its obligations if it is the only way to avoid violation of the Constitution, Chairman of Russia’s Constitutional Court Valery Zorkin said reading the ruling.

The European Court of Human Rights must respect the sovereignty of Russian Legislation, the ruling reads.

Zorkin qualified the European system of human rights protection as fundamental and called to reach a compromise in the current situation.

Russia’s Justice Ministry has filed a request with the Constitutional Court seeking to study the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling regarding €1.9 billion compensation to former Yukos shareholders.

The request for the Constitutional Court to review ECHR’s July 31, 2014 ruling in “Yukos vs Russia” case was signed on October 12, according to the Ministry’s press-service. It was prepared based on the Ministry’s conclusion on the impossibility of following through with the ECHR ruling and reports of the Federal Bailiff Service and the Federal Tax Service.

The Justice Ministry believes that obligations put on Russia by the ECHR are based on the Convention of Human Rights in interpretation conflicting with the ones of the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

In December, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe announced that it expects Russia to abide by its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and pay former Yukos shareholders the awarded compensation.

In the summer of 2014, the ECHR ruled that Russia must pay €1.9 billion in compensation and €300,000 of legal expenses to former Yukos shareholders.

At the end of 2015, Russia's Constitutional Court was granted the right to recognize decisions of international courts, including Strasbourg based European Court of Human Rights, as non-executable. The legislation was developed taking into account the respective Constitutional Court’s ruling establishing that each case of the ECHR decision implementation should be reviewed individually and these decisions should be executed only on the principle of supremacy of the Russian Constitution.

The Council of Europe expressed its concern with the ruling of the Constitutional Court: "Member States of the Council of Europe are bound by the European Convention on Human Rights to implement decisions of the Strasbourg Court. We are examining the Constitutional Court’s decision and will communicate our position in due course," statement of the Council reads.