Yukos shareholders can take the Russian government to court and attempt to reclaim $100 billion in damages, their lawyers said last week.
The New York Times reported that an arbitration panel in the United States had found in favour of shareholders' claims that their assets had been improperly taken by the Kremlin as it wound up the oil firm over unpaid taxes.
That paves the way for a full court case in the US - even if any award would prove almost impossible to collect from the Russian authorities.
Tim Osborne, director of the Yukos-related holding company GML (set up by Mikhail Khodorkovsky), told the paper that the verdict would force Russia to "stand up and be counted in its merits" in court.
Nobody from the Russian government or its representatives was available to comment on the ruling, which was not published by the judges.
But in his televised Q&A call-in show, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who was president at the time of Yukos's demise, said the oil company's assets had been used for housing and utilities services.
Putin said that 10 million people had benefited from the proceeds of the sale of Yukos and added that the bankruptcy proceedings were carried out "according to all Russian laws".