Sunday

26th May 2019

Belarus oligarch wins EU sanction case in Lithuania court

  • A court in Lithuania allows Belarus oligarch to access personal bank accounts despite EU sanctions. (Photo: Joachim Quandt)

A court in Vilnius ruled on Tuesday (28 August) to allow a Belarus oligarch and weapons tycoon currently under EU sanctions to pay his lawyer's fees in Lithuania.

The court found insufficient grounds by Lithuania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to block Belarus billionaire Vladimir Peftiev from using the money to pay his lawyers’ fees.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The Lithuania lawfirm Lawin are representing Peftiev at the EU court in Luxembourg in his attempt to lift the asset freeze and visa ban imposed by the EU in June of last year.

Lithuania’s ministry of foreign affairs spokeswomen told AFP that the court failed to assess “many important circumstances” and that it would appeal the ruling.

Vytis Jurkonis, an analyst from the Eastern Europe Studies Centre, a non-profit based in Lithuania that promotes civil society, told Radio Free Europe that the court had considered two cases, reports opposition website Charter ’97.

“A decision was taken only in one of them having relation to the company that defends Peftiev's interests. The decision related to the possibility of using the money transferred to company's account by Peftiev. It does not influence Brussels sanctions. Of course, a Lithuanian court cannot annul a decision of Brussels,” said Jurkonis.

Jurkonis claims the money belonged to Lawin and was specifically allocated to defend Peftiev’s case.

“The question was to allow them to use this money. It will have no impact on Brussels sanctions or Lithuania’s foreign policy,” noted Jurkonis.

The EU also froze three of Peftiev companies, including weapons company Beltechexport, telecoms operator Beltelcom and marketing business Sport-Pari.

Beltechexport is the country’s largest weapon’s manufacturer and produces aircraft, small arms, and armoured vehicles. The company acts as a middleman between Russian arms firms and dictators in Africa, Central Asia, south-east Asia and South America.

The EU, for its part, is considering extending the EU sanctions to other individuals close to Lukashenko this autumn.

The review follows a decision by Belarus to kick out Sweden’s ambassador earlier this month after a Swedish-piloted private plane on 4 July dropped teddy bears in protest against Lukashenko's regime. The stunt deeply embarrassed Minsk.

“We will be reviewing sanctions on Belarus later on in the next few months ... the situation with the Swedish embassy will have an effect on this,” Olof Skoog, the Swedish-origin chairman of the Political and Security Committee (PSC), a high-level EU diplomatic forum, said after meeting EU ambassadors in Brussels on Friday (10 August).

Investigation

Belarus, EU sanctions and the $1mn bounty

Even as Lukashenko becomes increasingly cruel and unusual, the EU capital is seeing an unprecedented amount of lobbying on his behalf.

Analysis

EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

News in Brief

  1. Exit poll: Narrow victory for Le Pen in France
  2. EU election turnout predicted at 51 percent - a 20-year high
  3. Flemish far-right in Belgian election boost
  4. Exit poll: Greek conservatives beat Syriza
  5. Kurz on top in Austria, despite Strache scandal
  6. Greens come in second in Germany, exit polls say
  7. Voter turnout rises in Europe at EU elections
  8. Former EU climate chief cheered by 40,000 activists in Denmark

Analysis

EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Latest News

  1. Thunberg: We can still fix climate, but must start today
  2. Turnout up in Slovakia, with pro-EU liberals scoring high
  3. Belgium votes in hybrid EU-national election
  4. Irish greens take Dublin in second EU exit poll
  5. EU election results to trigger top jobs scramble This WEEK
  6. Don't tell the Dutch - but Timmermans 'won'
  7. EU says goodbye to May with 'respect'
  8. Strache scandal: how big a hit will Austrian far-right take?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us