The Council of the European Union has today (6 March 2014) imposed restrictive measures on Viktor Yanukovych and 17 other former Ministers and senior officials identified as being “responsible for the misappropriation of Ukranian state funds”, whose assets are frozen in the EU for an initial period of 12 months. This move was foreshadowed in a previous blog. The legal measures (a Decision and Regulation) impose an asset freeze but not a travel ban. HM Treasury’s Notice explaining the new measures is here. The measures relating to Ukraine are on the ‘sanctions in force’ section of this blog.
The EU measures say that the Council decided “to focus restrictive measures on the freezing and recovery of assets of persons identified as responsible for the misappropriation of Ukrainian State funds” and “persons responsible for human rights violations”. This formulation is similar to the EU’s sanctions relating to Egypt and Tunisia, as are the reasons given for listing each individual – “person subject to criminal proceedings in Ukraine to investigate crimes in connection with the embezzlement of Ukrainian State funds and their illegal transfer outside Ukraine”. The Notice informing designated persons of their listings states that they have two months in which to challenge their listings in the European Court in Luxembourg. That Court has recently handed down judgments indicating what it means for the Council to identify an individual as being “responsible for the misappropriation of State funds” (see e.g. the Ezz judgment – blog forthcoming.
EU Heads of State met today (6 March) in Brussels to decide whether to impose sanctions on Russia. The President of the European Council announced that “the solution to the crisis should be found through negotiations between the Governments of Ukraine and the Russian Federation, including through potential multilateral mechanisms. Such negotiations need to start within the next few days and produce results within a limited timeframe. In the absence of such results the European Union will decide on additional measures, such as travel bans, asset freezes and the cancellation of the EU- Russia summit.”
Meanwhile, President Obama signed an Executive Order allowing the U.S. government to impose visa bans and asset freezes on individuals and entities ”misappropriating state assets of Ukraine” and “purporting to assert governmental authority over any part of Ukraine without authorization from the Ukrainian government in Kiev.”