Author`s name Pravda.Ru

YUKOS is heading for bankruptcy

Russia's YUKOS raised $357 million to put toward a $3.4 billion tax claim on Tuesday by selling a stake in a gas venture to partner TNK-BP, as analysts said the company was technically ready for bankruptcy.

YUKOS is trying to pull together every penny it can to pay down the potentially ruinous tax bill, and Rospan is the first non-core asset it has managed to sell. YUKOS itself is banned from selling assets but Rospan was owned by a subsidiary, reports Reuters.

The court turned down a bid by Yukos to force the government sell its contested stake in a rival company to pay off its crushing tax bill.

The news came after Yukos shares ended the day down 2.3 percent on the RTS dollar-denominated index after just two trades. Volume was a microscopic 85,000 dollars (70,000 euros) amid reports of investors simply growing too tired of the epic saga pitting the onetime investor darling against Kremlin insiders, according to AFP.

Critics have accused Putin of selectively targeting Yukos because its jailed founder and former chief executive Mikhail Khodorkovsky stood in open opposition to Kremlin policies on taxes and energy, and trying -- but failing -- to push his loyalists into parliament, continues AFP.

Xinhuanet reminds that the company's 3.4 billion US dollar back-tax bill for 2000 is the first in a series of tax charges on the company levied after a year-long investigation into Yukos, which many critics see as a Kremlin-inspired onslaught against Yukos former CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky who reportedly sponsored opponents against President Vladimir Putin. The company faces a similar claim for 2001 and is currently being audited for 2002. The firm has warned that the tax bill will drive it into bankruptcy and has been trying to seek compromise with the government.