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EU Extends Asset Freeze On Ex-President Yanukovych, 11 Other Ukrainians

Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych speaks at a news conference in Moscow on February 6.

The European Union has extended asset freezes on former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and 11 other Ukrainians suspected of embezzling state funds.

The EU imposed asset freezes against Yanukovych and his inner circle shortly after the collapse of his government in late 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 asset freezes will be extended until March 6, 2020. The ruling will come into force on March 5 when the notice is published in the EU's Official Journal.

Andriy Klyuyev, the former head of Yanukovych's presidential administration, was excluded from the sanctions list due to a ruling by the EU's general court last summer that said that the bloc's restrictive measures against Klyuyev for 2017-18 should be annulled.

In the July ruling, the court concluded that since Klyuyev informed the European Council that Ukrainian criminal proceedings against him had been suspended before the renewal of the bloc's restrictive measures, the council should have sought clarification on the issue from the Ukrainian authorities.

Several diplomats from EU member states who are familiar with the talks but not authorized to speak on the record told RFE/RL last month that the lack of compelling evidence from Ukraine had forced the EU to consider removing Klyuyev from the list.

Andriy's brother, Serhiy Klyuyev, was removed from the same sanctions list last year. Serhiy, who was a businessman and lawmaker from Yanukovych's Party of Regions, was the nominal owner of Mezhyhirya, the lavish Yanukovych residence outside Kyiv that is now a museum.

With reporting by dpa