(CN) – The European General Court tossed a challenge to sanctions Wednesday from the erstwhile head of administration for former Ukraine President Victor Yanukovych.
Andriy Petrovych Klyuyev found himself on the Council of the European Union’s restrictive-measures list back in 2014 after Yanukovych’s government collapsed.
In the months leading up to his ouster, which Yanukovych has described as an “armed coup,” Ukraine was on the brink of civil war brought on by his November 2013 abandonment of a deal two decades in the making that would have established closer ties between Ukraine and the EU.
Yanukovych instead pursued a deal that would have strengthened Ukraine’s ties to Russia, where the 67-year-old has been living in exile fleeing Ukraine’s capital.
In March 2014, two weeks after the EU council froze the assets of Yanukovych, his son, Klyuyev and others, Russia annexed the Ukrainian territory of Crimea.
Klyuyev’s assets were frozen on the basis of an investigation he faced in the Ukraine regarding allegations of embezzling state funds. Though the measures have been renewed by the council every year since, Kluyev has seen some success over the years with challenges in Luxembourg.
Despite upholding two decisions that extended restrictive measures against Kluyev from March 2015 to March 2017, the European General Court annulled the inclusion of Klyuyev’s name on the list for the periods March 2014 to March 2015 and March 2017 to March 2018.
In its last ruling this past July, the court cited evidence that Ukrainian authorities may have provided unreliable information to initiate the proceedings against Klyuyev. Four months before that ruling came down, however, the council extended Klyuyev’s sanctions into March 2019.
Today’s ruling notes that the same problems with the restrictive measures that the court criticized in July are apparent here — namely that the council has ignored exculpatory evidence produced by Kluyev. Furthermore the criminal proceedings against Kluyev in Ukraine are now suspended.
Nevertheless, the ruling continues, it is up to the council to re-examine its decision to maintain restrictive measures.
“It follows that the council is under an obligation to examine the impact of a judgment with the force of res judicata which annuls a measure on the decision to maintain restrictive measures,” the ruling states. “The council must, in particular, re-examine carefully, and in the light of the General Court’s judgment annulling the restrictive measures previously adopted, whether the reasons which led the council, in the meantime, to maintain the restrictive measures remain valid.
“Where that is not the case, the council must make further inquiries and draw the appropriate conclusions from those inquiries, namely, inter alia, whether to repeal or maintain the restrictive measures, where appropriate for a period limited to the time necessary to complete those inquiries.”
Ultimately, according to the ruling, Klyuyev has made no showing of urgency that requires the court to intervene.
Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the prime minister of Ukraine from 2014 to 2016, has claimed that up to $70 billion was diverted from Ukraine’s treasury to foreign accounts during Yanukovych’s presidency.
Yanukovych was dogged by corruption claims during his time in office, which coincided with his only son, Oleksandr, becoming one of the wealthiest men in the country. Both Yanukovych and his son are living in Russia, while the investigations against them in the Ukraine have evolved into criminal proceedings.