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E.U. Court Annuls Asset Freeze of Ukrainian PMs

(CN) - The Council of the European Union should not have frozen the assets of two ex-Ukrainian prime ministers and three of its citizens suspected of misappropriating state funds in the wake of the country's political crisis two years ago, its general court ruled Thursday.

On Nov. 21, 2013, former Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych sparked months of mass protests in the country when he suspended the planned implementation of an agreement to join the European Union.

The demonstrations unseated former prime minister Mykola Yanovych Azarov, his successor Sergej Arbuzov, and Yanukovych, within weeks of each other the following year.

Weeks after Yakunovych's fall, on March 5, 2014, the council took action against the five men for allegedly misappropriating Ukrainian funds and transferring them outside the country.

Former prime ministers Azarov and Arbuzov were two of men, and the former already had an Interpol "red notice" pending against him.

The others sanctioned included Arazov's son Oleksii Mykolayovych Azarov; Sergiy Klyuyev, the brother of the president's former head of administration; and Edward Stavytskyi, its former Minister for Energy and the Coal Industry.

The General Court of the European Union ruled Thursday that the council did not provide enough details of the allegations against the men to freeze their assets.

By press time, the court only had English translations of the judgments as to two of the men: Klyuyev and Stavytskyi.

The court's press release, however, said that the council's letter justifying its actions "provides no details concerning the matters specifically alleged against the five Ukrainians or the nature of their responsibility."

The judgments annulled the asset freeze and allowed the council two months to lodge an appeal.

The council did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In early 2015, the Germany-based anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International called for the extradition of Arazov and Yanukovych, who were living in Russia, to face charges back home.

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