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Ukraine Slaps Sanctions On Ex-President Yanukovych, Ex-PM Azarov, And Others

Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych (file photo)
Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych (file photo)

Ukrainian security and defense officials have imposed sanctions against exiled former President Viktor Yanukovych, ex-Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, and nearly two dozen other individuals active under the administration that fell when Yanukovych fled to Russia under pressure from street protests in 2014.

The National Security and Defense Council named other individuals including a former education minister, oligarch Serhiy Kurchenko, the Moscow-backed leader of Crimea after its annexation by Russia seven years ago, and a former Ukrainian prosecutor who became a Russian lawmaker, Natalia Poklonskaya.

The council also named an entrepreneur whose companies were being sanctioned, Vitaliy Lupeto.

All are accused of aiding Russia's control of Crimea since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in 2014 and the ongoing control of Russia-backed separatists of swaths of the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.

Yanukovych and Azarov both fled Ukraine to Russia after the pro-democracy protests sometimes referred to as the Euromaidan movement.

The council approved the sanctions on March 19 after a recommendation from the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU).

"In 2014, great responsibility was placed on the leaders of the state, but they allowed the worst to happen -- the Russian invasion of our territory," SBU Chairman Ivan Bakanov said. "So they have to answer for it. And it doesn't matter what they were doing at the time: fleeing to Rostov or calling on Russia to 'save' the Russian-speaking population."

National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov stressed that "some of these people, the majority" targeted in the new sanctions "are now Russian citizens."

Yanukovych was sentenced in absentia to 13 years in prison for treason in Ukraine in 2019.

Based on reporting by RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, Reuters, the Kyiv Post, and Interfax

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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