24th Mar 2018

Former Ukraine leader files court case against EU blacklist

  • Visitors at the Museum of Corruption - Yanukovych's former home (Photo: aleksandr.andreiko)

Ukraine's former leader, Viktor Yanukovych, his sons, and six other people on an EU blacklist have launched court proceedings to get their assets unfrozen.

Andriy Portnov, a former aide to Yanukovych, got the ball rolling by lodging a case on 29 April at the EU court in Luxembourg.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Mykola Azarov, the former PM, and his son, Oleksii, followed suit with two separate cases on 12 May.

Yanukovych and his sons, Viktor junior and Oleksandr, lodged three separate cases on 14 May.

Serhiy Kurchenko, a businessman linked to the old ruling clan, filed one on 15 May. Andrii Kluyev, the former president's chief of staff, and his brother, Serhii Kluyev, a businessman, also lodged two separate cases the same day.

All the complaints call for an "annulment" of the EU sanctions decision.

Four other Ukrainians on the blacklist have also written to the EU Council requesting access to evidence in a sign of more lawsuits to come.

The four men are: former prosecutor general Viktor Pshonka and his son Artem; former spy chief Oleksandr Yakymenko; and former interior minister Vitalii Zakharchenko.

The EU froze the assets in Europe of 18 Ukrainians on 6 March, two weeks after Yanukovych fled the country, in order to help the new authorities repatriate embezzled funds.

Ukraine's new prosecutor general has estimated the old elite, or "Familia", stole up to €70 billion in its four years in power.

Some of the wealth is on display in Yanukovych's former home, the Mezhyhirya complex outside Kiev, where documents show he spent €31 million on light fittings alone, and which has now been made into a Museum of Corruption.

For their part, the Azarovs are being represented by a German law firm, Alber & Geiger.

It says EU sanctions cannot be imposed against people after they left power, because sanctions are meant to influence government behaviour, not to punish people or to claw back money.

It usually takes the EU court between 18 months and two and a half years to reach a verdict in sanctions cases. If either side appeals, it could take another 18 months before a final ruling.

In a quirk of EU law, plaintiffs are allowed to use frozen funds to pay their lawyers to fight the EU.

But even if the Yanukovych clan wins, it could be a partial victory.

For one, the EU court has never awarded financial damages in a sanctions case, even if the plaintiff's funds were frozen for years.

Meanwhile, if the Familia wins, but on a legal technicality, EU countries can re-blacklist them after correcting the procedural glitch highlighted by the judges. Any new decision would have to be fought afresh in court.

EU rejects US trade 'gun to the head'

EU leaders demanded a permanent exemption from US tariffs on steel and aluminium - and ruled out any bilateral trade talks within the 1 May deadline set by Donald Trump.

News in Brief

  1. EU wants 'Paris' climate strategy within 13 months
  2. Workload of EU court remains high
  3. Spain's supreme court charges Catalan separatist leaders
  4. EU calls for 'permanent' exemption from US tariffs
  5. Summit backs guidelines for future EU-UK talks
  6. Macron support drops as public sector workers go on strike
  7. EU leaders condemn Turkey for illegal actions in Aegean Sea
  8. Parliament must publish 'trilogue' documents, court says

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverStart a Career in EU Media. Apply Now to Become Our Next Sales Associate
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?

Latest News

  1. Nordic states discuss targeted Russia sanctions
  2. Commission sticks to its line on Barroso case
  3. Germany and France promise new Russia sanctions
  4. EU rejects US trade 'gun to the head'
  5. Tariffs and Turkey will top This WEEK
  6. EU leaders roll over Brexit talks amid Trump and Russia fears
  7. Europe needs corporate tax reform - a digital tax isn't it
  8. EU data chiefs rally behind UK over Cambridge Analytica