Viktor Viktorovych Yanukovych was unjustly targeted by EU sanctions

17 July 2015
Author: JHA

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On 5 June 2015, the European Union took the long overdue step of removing sanctions on our client Viktor Viktorovych Yanukovych, younger son of Ukrainian president, Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych. No reason was given by the Council for his delisting.*

Despite a lack of any credible evidence against him, Viktor Viktorovych Yanukovych (“Mr Yanukovych”) was originally targeted during the imposition of far-reaching sanctions by the EU in March 2014. Since that time, the EU has repeatedly failed to justify his inclusion. Independent observers have speculated that the sanctions were imposed in haste and that they had remained in place so long because European Union officials had been reluctant to admit error.**

It might look like backing away from the unjust imposition of sanctions has been made easier by the tragic death of Mr Yanukovych in March this year although very often sanctions remain in place against the estate of a deceased target for years after their death.***

This would appear to be particularly relevant in the case of Ukraine given that a primary asserted purpose of these EU sanctions is the freezing and recovery of assets allegedly misappropriated. Any genuine need for such freezing and recovery would remain whether the targeted individual was alive or not.

An in-depth analysis of the conduct of the EU Council underlines its own lack of confidence in any justification for the sanctions against Mr Yanukovych. For example, the Council twice amended the reasoning for his listing, first on 29 January 2015 and again on 5 March 2015. However, even under the amended reasoning, the Council was then prepared to renew its sanctions against Mr Yanukovych for only three months, and not the normal period of one year. As observers have noted,**** this short extension was granted in an unsuccessful effort to get the regime in Ukraine to provide evidence and justification for Mr Yanukovych’s listing.

Prior to his death Mr Yanukovych had applied to the European Courts to challenge the Council’s decision to impose sanctions against him. His estate intends to continue that claim, even after his delisting, in order to establish that he should never have been included. Mr Yanukovych’s estate also intends to bring a claim for damages against the Council in respect of the serious breach by the Council of the rule of law in the wrongful imposition of sanctions against him.

Mr Yanukovych’s estate wants all documents relating to the imposition of sanctions against Mr Yanukovych, and to Mr Yanukovych’s challenges before the European Courts, to be made public, so that the public can come to its own conclusions about the reasons for his listing and delisting, and the unfair process to which he was subjected. Action on behalf of Mr Yanukovych’s estate seeking such public access will be started shortly.

* The Council of the European Union adopted Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/876 and Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/869. These instruments removed our client Viktor Viktorovych Yanukovych from the list of Ukrainians made subject to EU sanctions since March 2014. The exact wording of the Regulation delisting Viktor Viktorovych Yanukovych is:

“The person listed below is deleted from the list set out in Annex I to Regulation (EU) No 208/2014 as of 6 June 2015:

Entry No 8 — Viktor Viktorovych Yanukovych (Віктор Вікторович Янукович) (son of former President)”.

** e.g. http://www.wsj.com/articles/eu-set-to-scale-back-sanctions-against-former-ukraine-presidents-inner-circle-1424174482; http://www.wsj.com/articles/eu-faces-legal-worries-over-ukraine-corruption-sanctions-1418305869

*** For example, three sons of Muammar Qadhafi then subject to the EU’s Libyan sanctions regime, Mutassim Qadhafi, Khamis Muammar Qadhafi and Saif al-Arab Qadhafi, lost their lives during the course of 2011. Not only has the Council nonetheless renewed sanctions against these deceased individuals in May 2015, it has even recognised their deaths on the face of the instruments that did so.

**** See footnote 2 above.

ENDS

Enquiries to: Joseph Hage Aaronson LLP, Tel: +44 (0)2078518888

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