The European Union General Court has annulled a decision extending 2020 EU asset freezes against former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his son. For the time being, however, Wednesday’s verdict has no concrete effects, as there is a new decision to extend the sanctions for this year.
In March 2014, shortly after Yanukovych was deposed, the EU froze assets in the EU. The reason for the punitive measures were indications that Yanukovych, his son and other people had embezzled public funds or abused their offices. The pro-Russian president was overthrown in February 2014 amid protests.
In his homeland, Yanukovych has now been sentenced in absentia to 13 years in prison for treason. Ukrainian media recently reported that the Kremlin wanted to reinstate the 71-year-old as president in the wake of the war against Ukraine. Yanukovych was put on the EU sanctions list because he is also being prosecuted for misappropriating public assets.
In its ruling, the EU court now complained that the Council of the EU had not sufficiently examined whether the rights of defense and the right to effective judicial protection in Ukraine were observed. The EU court had already declared the sanction extensions from 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 null and void for similar reasons. The most recent sanctions decision against Yanukovych and his son was issued in early March this year. It is still valid.
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