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To read the international press, one would think that the last two years have been good ones for Russian President Vladimir Putin.Plunging oil prices may have wreaked havoc on Russia's finances, but so far Putin's popularity seems unaffected.In 2014, for example, the European Court of Human Rights delivered 129 judgments against Russia, and in January, the Council of Europe deprived Russia of its voting rights for its violations of international law. As the rulings pile up, they are starting to pose a threat to Russia's international standing, its financial health and Putin himself.In a separate case, in June 2014 the ECHR ordered Russia to pay Yukos's shareholders more than $2 billion "in respect of pecuniary damage".Finally, while Russia has established de facto control of Crimea, it is likely to find itself increasingly embroiled in legal challenges to its presence there.These endless legal challenges will scare off investment in Crimea, requiring Russia to subsidize its occupation for years to come.
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