Courts won – The First Step Before European Sanctions Lifted
A year and a half ago, the General Prosecutor’s Office perfectly understood the problems with the EU sanctions placed on former officials and Yanukovych’s henchmen, but in fact, did nothing to save them – CEO of the Anti Corruption Action Centre Daria Kalenyuk.
The removing of sanctions against M. Azarov, S. Klyuev, S. Arbuzov and E. Stavisky by the Luxembourg court applies only to sanctions, which were in operation from March 2014 to March 2015.
In March of 2014, based on its decision, the EU Council imposed sanctions on 18 individuals on the basis on the letter from Mr. Mahnitskoho, which reported that the GPU is investigating cases in which these persons appear to have pillaged large amounts of state assets. Subsequently, the EU demanded the details of the proceedings and was horrified to find out that for some reason, some of the names in the original list of sanctions were not listed in the details of the proceedings.
The EU realized the danger and through a court appeal changed strategy – demanding the GPU investigate economic crimes and evidence of those individuals who were suspects.
In March of 2015 the EU used these findings as a new basis for applying sanctions. However, the sanctions were lifted from Protnov, Azarov’s son, Kalinin and Yakimenko, because there were no criminal proceedings for economic crimes on these individuals, or they the evidence was too weak.
Now, the EU continues the eternal debate of whether or not to continue applying the sanctions that were imposed in 2015. If the GPU does not come to its senses, the EU decision will be a victory for Yanukovych and a miserable defeat for us. In the EU, the GPU is not perceived as a serious, reliable partner and they fear that if the GPU is lying it will force them to compensate Yanukovych for damages caused by the sanctions.
In March of 2016, the sanctions may be extended only for those individuals, of whom there is significant progress in the investigation, including indictments transferred to court. If, for example, there is no Parliament decision on detention and arrest for Serhiy Klyuyev, then he will be the first sortie. There is also a big question surrounding Ivanyuschenko, although he had 200 million USD arrested abroad.
The decision to extend the sanctions will be made by the EU Council, which is composed of leaders of the 28 country members. The vote must be unanimous. Just one country could block the continuation of the sanctions.