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A Russian court on Friday rejected a $16 billion claim against BP PLC filed by an obscure minority shareholder in BP's Russian venture, TNK-BP.

The court victory may have softened the blow that BP sustained when Rosneft dropped it as a partner in developing Russia's untapped Arctic oil and gas riches. The multibillion dollar deal broke down after TNK-BP's Russian billionaire shareholders blocked it, claiming that BP should be pursuing it through TNK-BP.

The Arbitration Court in the Tyumen region in Siberia on Friday dismissed two motions filed by a group of minority shareholders led by Andrei Prokhorov, who owns 0.0000106 percent in TNK-BP. The lawsuits are a $13 billion claim against BP and a $2.8 billion suit against two BP-nominated directors on TNK-BP's board.

Prokhorov and other shareholders claimed that BP and its representatives damaged TNK-BP's interests by failing to include the Russian venture in the Arctic deal with Rosneft.

BP's Russian partners in TNK-BP have denied any connection to the minority shareholder's suit. The claim was the reason why Russian police raided BP's office in August, which happened just days after Rosneft teamed up with ExxonMobil to develop the Arctic.

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