Saturday

19th Oct 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.

EU envoy sheds light on weird US diplomacy

Remarks to Congress by the US ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, have shed light on the unusual nature of American diplomacy under president Donald Trump.

Macron warned on danger of Balkans veto

France's veto on North Macedonia enlargement will endanger the Serbia-Kosovo peace process, a senior EU official has warned, but diplomats do not expect Macron to change his mind.

EU countries to halt arms sales to Turkey

EU states have agreed to stop arms sales to Turkey over its invasion of Syria, marking a nadir in relations with their Nato ally. In response, Ankara mocked the decision as a "joke".

News in Brief

  1. Macron: Nato's inability to react to Turkey a 'mistake'
  2. EU: US can expect counter measures after tariff move
  3. Almost 7,500 people forcibly returned to Libya in 2019
  4. Puigdemont released after responding to arrest warrant
  5. Commission: Facebook's Libra needs international approach
  6. Italian PM: denial of accession talks a 'historic mistake'
  7. Catalan president blames clashes on 'infiltrators'
  8. US imposes €6.7bn new tariffs on European products

Column

These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission

These developments will largely determine who will be running the world in the coming decades and perhaps generations. If the Europeans can't find an answer over the five years, they will be toast. And we haven't even mentioned climate change.

Opinion

Time to pay attention to Belarus

Belarus may be hosting the European Games, but Vladimir Putin is not playing games when it comes to Belarus' independence. The West needs to get serious as well.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  2. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  3. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  4. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  6. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  10. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  12. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us