MOSCOW, July 21 (RAPSI) - The Russian government's legislative commission approved a bill that would allow Russia to seize assets of foreign states that violate its sovereignty, Kommersant newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The bill stipulates that Russian courts may order a seizure of a foreign state’s assets (currently allowed with approval from the respective state). However, Russia may only exercise the right on a mutual basis, that is, if the court rules that the country is involved is restricting Russia’s sovereign immunity.

The Ministry of Justice explained that the bill would ensure “a jurisdiction balance” in Russia’s relations with other states. The ministry says that the number of lawsuits against Russia and its authorities filed with foreign courts is consistently growing. However, the claimants are not requesting Russia’s consent to be involved in the case. Lately, Russia has closed several international agreements on mutual protection of investments. The contracts provide for investment related disputes to be heard by international commercial courts. If Russia recognizes the jurisdiction of foreign states it implies that it renounces its own sovereignty, according to the bill’s authors.

In mid-June, several EU countries arrested Russia’s state assets under the lawsuit by former Yukos shareholders. The Russian Foreign Ministry announced that Moscow sees such an action as a serious violation of international law and that the rulings would be appealed. Sergei Gavrilov, Head of the State Duma Committee on Property Issues, announced that he intended to draft a bill that would protect Russia’s property abroad.