(CN) – The European General Court annulled two years of sanctions Thursday against former Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych and one of his sons.
Living in exile since 2014, Yanukovych brought the Ukraine to the brink of civil war by abandoning a deal two decades in the making that would have established closer ties with the EU.
Yanukovych instead pursued a deal that would have strengthened Ukraine’s ties to Russia, where the 69-year-old has been living in exile since fleeing Ukraine’s capital.
In March 2014 — two weeks after the Council of the European Union froze the assets of Yanukovych, his son and others — Russia annexed the Ukrainian territory of Crimea.
The EU council imposed the sanctions on the ground that Yanukovych and the others were subject to criminal embezzlement charges in Ukraine, and the sanctions have been renewed annually.
In ordering those sanctions annulled Thursday, however, Europe’s Luxembourg-based General Court determined that the council did not verify whether Ukraine complied with the rights of defense and effective judicial protection of the accused.
Specifically, the court annulled the asset freeze with regard to the former Ukrainian president and his son Oleksandr Yanukovych from March 2016 to March 2018.
The sanctions against five other former members of Ukraine’s ruling class were annulled as well for the period of March 2018 to March 2019.