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EU Court Annuls Yanukovych Asset Freezes

Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych
Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych

BRUSSELS -- The European Union’s General Court on July 11 has annulled asset freezes imposed on former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, his son Oleksandr, and five other associates.

The court ruled on the original 2014 decision and subsequent renewals until 2018.

Despite the ruling, Yanukovych, his son, and associates remain on the sanctions list since the restrictive measures against them were extended by a year in March.

Andriy Klyuyev, the former head of Yanukovych's presidential administration, was also cleared by the court on July 11. Klyuyev had already been removed from the sanctions list earlier this year.

The court in its ruling noted that although the EU can base the adoption or maintenance of restrictive measures on a decision of a third state, it must itself verify that the rights of the defense and the right to effective judicial protection were complied with at the time of the adoption of the decision, something that Brussels, according to the court, had failed to do.

The EU imposed asset freezes against Yanukovych and his inner circle shortly after the collapse of his government in February 2014.

The bloc accused Yanukovych and his collaborators of misappropriation of state funds. Apart from the former president, the restrictive measures still include his son, Oleksandr, and former Prime Ministers Mykola Azarov and Serhiy Arbuzov.

The EU has extended asset freezes against the former Ukrainian president and his associates until March 6, 2020.

In a written statement to RFE/RL, EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said that “we have taken note of the judgments of the General Court of the EU. We will analyze carefully the judgments and decide on this basis on the way forward.”

The EU General Court’s ruling can be appealed within two months and 10 days after it is issued.

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