Kiev’s Questioning of EU Policy: Only Eight of Yanukovych ‘Gang’ Sanctioned?

Written by | Thursday, February 27th, 2014

Ukraine’s opposition leadership wants the European Union to sanction not only former President Yanukovych but also his entire “squad”. Mr Yanukovych, who is currently on the run from the country, is allegedly responsible for embezzling billions of euros and accused of causing deaths during the Euromaidan. According to the leader of the opposition Batkivshchyna party, Viktor Yanukovych and his clan stole about 9 billion euros from the country’s treasury in the past four years. The party’s leadership also urges the EU to freeze assets and ban visas in order to help repatriate the stolen money and to ease clashes in the streets.
Brussels has drafted a piece of legislation asking to materialize the decision taken by EU foreign ministers last week. While the legal text uses common wording, such as “against those responsible for human rights violations, violence, or use of excessive force”, it also includes a list of names. The document remains confidential until it is issued in the EU’s Official Journal. Nevertheless, the potential names are well known for the Ukrainians and opposition leaders. Currently, the list is reportedly eight-name long and includes most of Mr Yanukovych’s former security bosses. There are also pressures to expand the list by additional three names according to the information contained in the documents taken from government buildings.
EU member states seem to be somewhat hesitant to follow the wish of the Ukrainian opposition and instead have chosen to wait to see what the head of EU diplomacy, Catherine Ashton, will report after coming back from Kiev. Although asset freezing has been used by the EU in other foreign crises, many EU members remain unwilling to proceed even if Mrs Ashton says yes. An EU diplomat is said to have commented that the implementation of further steps should be taken in response to further developments in Ukraine. The diplomat stressed that sanctions should be used for preventive, not punitive purposes, hence making it unclear what effects they would have if implemented today.

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