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Ukrainian Ex-President's Son Among Those Likely To Be Removed From EU Sanctions List

Viktor Yanukovych (left) and his son Oleksandr (file photo)
Viktor Yanukovych (left) and his son Oleksandr (file photo)

European Union diplomats are considering removing several of the 10 remaining Ukrainians -- including Oleksandr Yanukovych, the son of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych -- from a list of sanctioned people the bloc believes are responsible for the misappropriation of Ukrainian state funds.

The EU imposed asset freezes on Viktor Yanukovych, part of his family, and his inner political circle shortly after the collapse of his government in late February 2014, but the list has slowly been whittled down over the years after some of them challenged, and sometimes won, court cases against the EU sanctions.

The bloc's losses in court have led to growing demands that the list should be pared down further or even annulled.

Several EU diplomats who are familiar with the talks but not authorized to speak on the record told RFE/RL that there were "a number of 'weak cases' on the list that are bound to be challenged in the EU court" and that a lack of compelling evidence from Ukraine has forced the EU to consider the de-listings.

Apart from Oleksandr Yanukovych, a businessman who became one of Ukraine's richest men during his father's reign, former Prime Minister Serhiy Arbuzov, ex-Minister for Duties and Revenues Oleksandr Klymenko, and Dmytro Tabachnyk, who worked as minister of education from 2010 to 2014, are the most likely candidates to be removed from the list.

There have been some discussions about the presence of Viktor Yanukovych and former Prosecutor-General Viktor Pshonka on the list as well.

However, there is general agreement among the 27 EU member states that the sanctions regime should continue with some adjustments.

Last year, former Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and ex-Energy Minister Eduard Stavytsky were removed from the list, while in 2019 Andriy Klyuyev, the former head of Yanukovych's presidential administration, was taken off the list.

EU diplomats will have another round of discussions later this week on the issue, while a final decision by EU ambassadors will be taken at the end of February, just before the official deadline to decide on the one-year rollover of the measures from the beginning of March.

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